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Back pain in kids is on the rise. A study published in the journal Spine found 6% of 10 year olds complain of back pain, increasing to 10%- 15% for 12 year olds.

One of the main times in any person’s life when their spine is subject to damage is during childhood while they are still growing. A leading cause of disruption in the spinal development and posture is the use of a backpack.

The good news is that your Keller Chiropractor is here to help with some simple pointers and a few backpack facts that will hopefully spark you and your children to follow them.

1. Select the Best Backpack
When buying a backpack, put the same amount of thought into it as you do selecting a child’s shoes. First of all, avoid packs or bags with a single strap. This lopsided pressure will likely have a negative impact on the spine over time.

To assure a proper fit, get one with heavily padded shoulder straps (which should fit snug but not too tight). As well, ensure the backpack doesn’t hang too low down the back and get one with a waist strap if possible.

2. Keep it on the Lighter Side
When the backpack is loaded and ready to go, your child should not have to lean forward to keep from flipping backwards. If he or she does lean to offset the weight, it’s too heavy. Overtime this will stress the spine and probably back problems.

A good rule of them is a maximum weight of 10% of total body weight. That means that a 50lb child should not carry more than 5 pounds. The younger your child the more essential this is.

Once into the teenage years, you can max out at 20% of total body weight.

One tip that will help make the pack easier to carry is to ensure the heavier items are closer to the body so the legs carry more of the load rather than the spine.

3. Carry it Correctly
Make sure your kids wear one strap over each shoulder. This keeps the pack close to the body and distributes its weight evenly across the back and shoulders. If you pack has a waist strap, use it to help keep the weight closer to the core of the body.

4. Get their Spine Checked
The results of carrying heavy backpacks isn’t something most parents think about until the damage is done. If you are unsure about the condition of your child’s spine, give your local Express Chiropractor in Keller or the chiropractic center near you a call to get him or her checked out. It’s much easier to correct back problems in a growing child than a full grown adult.

The reality is that damage from overloaded and improperly carried book bags is a serious issue. The consumer product safety commission estimates that more than 3,300 children aged 5 to 14 were treated in emergency rooms last year for pain and injuries stemming from backpacks.
Additionally, an Auburn University study concluded that a serious threat to spinal development is heavy backpacks. They found in their study that the average pack was 17% of the child’s body weight. This is the equivalent of a 150 lb. adult carrying a 26 lb. pack. They also found that 50.8% reported back pain while 24.5% experience numbness and 14.7% shoulder pain.

A study conducted at Johns Hopkins Children Center showed heavy and overloaded book bags to be a cause of shoulder and lower-back pain and poor posture in kids.
Consider this…more than five million adult Americans are sidelined from work every year secondary to chronic pain in the back. How many of these problems started in their youth?