The Connection Between Backpacks & Spine Health
Back to school is here for East Texas students. Many students will be walking to and from school, as well as all around school, with heavy backpacks full of books and learning materials. All parents should be aware and monitor the weight of their child’s backpack throughout the year. Backpacks and spine health go hand-in-hand – too much weight carried on the back can lead to additional muscle stress and back pain. If you have questions about the weight of your child’s backpack, please contact the pain management doctors at Pain Recovery Center of Tyler.
One of the most exciting things about back to school is a child being able to pick out the latest style of backpacks. Backpacks have changed over the years and the majority of them now come with various compartments that help a child stay organized with school work, sports and after-school activities.
When worn correctly with the appropriate weight, the weight carried in the pack is evenly distributed across the body, reducing the risk of muscle and joint stress. It is important to note backpacks are commonly recommended by pain management doctors because they have the ability to be supported by the back and abdominal muscles, unlike messenger bags, shoulder bags and large totes.
Backpacks & Spine Health – What to Know as a Parent
Textbooks have gotten bigger and bigger over the years and more and more additional learning materials are necessary for each class. This combination leads to more weight being carried in backpacks each and every school day.
In a large study, it was found that over 33% of children between the ages of 11-14 years reported some level of back pain and discomfort. The students who carried heavier backpacks reported more back pain than the students who carried lighter backpacks. Many medical professionals agree that heavy backpacks can lead to spinal injuries including muscle fatigue, lumbar curvature and lumbar disc compression.
Backpacks and spine health are strongly connected in students of all ages. Heavy weight in backpacks can cause:
- Rounding of the shoulders
- Walking while leaning forward
- Distortion of the back’s natural curve leading to muscle strain and joint irritation
The back pain and discomfort caused by a backpack too heavy can usually be alleviated with reduced activity and/or rest. Pain management doctors often recommend that backpack weight should be limited to 10-15% of the child’s body weight in order to reduce the risk of spinal injuries.
How to Avoid Back Pain Associated with a Backpack
This school year, follow these recommendations to help your child reduce the risk of back pain and spinal injuries:
- Choose a backpack with:
- Lightweight material and a padded back
- Two padded, wide and adjustable shoulder straps
- Individualized compartments
Teach your child how to properly wear and load their backpack:
- Use both shoulder straps at all times
- Pack heaviest items first so they are carried lower in the body
- Fill compartments evenly
- Do not lean forward when walking
- Lift the backpack with leg muscles and not the back
If you live in the East Texas area and would like additional information on backpacks and spine health, please contact the pain management doctors at Pain Recovery Center of Tyler today.