A: Absolutely! A backpack that is too heavy, improperly carried or the combination of the two can have very detrimental effects on your child’s growing spine. It can not only cause aches and pains now, but can also lead to big problems down the road.
All too often kids are carrying too much weight in their packs, and all that weight is difficult for their bodies to handle. The repetitive stress causes muscle fatigue and tension, quickly resulting in pain that will not go away with the continued load. The muscle pain is not the greatest concern, however. The large and often uneven stress to the spine can lead to or worsen poor spinal posture and abnormal curvatures in the spine such as scoliosis. If these issues are not cared for and corrected, they can lead to lifelong pain and problems for your child.
Some ways you can prevent the problems caused by backpacks are to make sure your child carries no more than 10 to 15 percent of his or her body weight in the pack, and pay close attention to the shoulder straps. Broad and padded straps will greatly reduce the pressure on your child’s shoulders, reducing discomfort and potential nerve and vascular impingement to the arms.
Also, make sure the straps are adjusted to fit the pack closely to the back which keeps the load closer to the center of gravity. As always, make sure to have your child’s spine checked and corrected regularly to help prevent pain now and in the future.
Information provided by Dr. Chris Tigges of Boone Family Chiropractic, 1320 S. Marshall St., 432-9525.