A: For the health of their children, it’s important for parents to follow these guidelines to help prevent pain and any future problems associated with improper use of backpacks:
• Make sure your child’s backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward to support the weight on the back, rather than the shoulders.
• The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
• A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back.
• Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry and the heavier the backpack will be.
• Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
• Wide, padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable and can dig in your child’s shoulders.
Some research shows that children suffering from low back pain may still have pain into adulthood. Therefore, prevention is key.
Information provided by Williamson Chiropractic, 206 S. Main St., 986-9189.