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Backpack Safety Basics - Keys to Your Child's Spine and Neck Health

- Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Greetings once again from you friends, neighbors, and professional chiropractic care team here at Austin’s TexStar Chiropractic! Today’s blog post is a joint effort between Dr. Henry DC and Dr. Tran DC who are both currently active in “backpack management”. We keep expecting this annual reminder to stop being necessary at some point as more and more schoolwork becomes computer based and fewer textbooks are being used but somehow we still see these 80lb kids hauling these 20lb backpacks to the bus stop in the morning.

Dr. Henry asked his nephew who is in middle school what all has to load into his backpack every day:

  • Athletic clothes for gym
  • Water Bottle
  • Snacks and Lunch
  • Work Folders / binders
  • At least two textbooks

This came out to just over 15 lbs. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but he weighs 75lbs. That’s 20% of his body weight. Even that wouldn’t be such a big problem except that these kids don’t get lockers anymore, so they are hauling this load around all day every day.

Even as I was packing my 3-year old’s backpack for preschool this morning I realized that with just lunch and a water bottle she was dangerously close to the recommended limit of 10% of her body weight.

Here are some fun facts:

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission found during a recent study that 75% of children surveyed in the age range of 8 to 12 years complained of back pain related to their backpacks.

It is estimated that 14,000 children are treated for backpack related injuries every year.

In 2016 over 6,300 kids had backpack-related injuries severe enough to receive Emergency Room treatment.

So, here is the down-low on how to properly send your kiddos off to school and keep them out of the chiropractor’s office (at least until their next somersault off the side of the trampoline).

  • Keep the backpack weight around 10% of your kid’s body weight whenever possible (I know with the tiny ones this is a hard thing to accomplish, but their spines are in a critical developmental stage so try)
  • Never let the bottom of the pack hang more than 4 inches below their waistline (don’t buy a backpack taller than the distance from your kid’s waistline to the top of their shoulders, or wider than their shoulder width)
  • Always encourage them to wear both shoulder straps (and a waist strap or chest clip if the bag has one)
  • Make sure the straps are wide and padded (too much pressure on the shoulders can cause other problems like numbness in the arms and hands)
  • Place the heaviest items closest to their back (multiple compartments help with this)
  • If they must lean forward to stand or walk, the bag is too heavy (keep the backpack limited to the essentials even if it means them taking a second bag for afterschool activities etc.)

None of this is meant to scare you as a parent and we know that with your teenagers backpack safety is not high on their list of concerns but if we use these recommendations as a guide and just improve what we can it will be a step in the right direction.

If you have questions or concerns beyond this simple list, feel free to contact us at Austin’s TexStar Chiropractic. One of our doctors will be happy to answer any questions you have about backpack safety or childhood back problems.

TexStar Chiropractic - Backpack Safety BasicsTexStar Chiropractic - Backpack Safety Basics

Sources: The Impact of Backpack Loads on School Children: A Critical Narrative Review

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TexStar Chiropractic

4601 Southwest Pkwy #101,
Austin, TX 78735

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