As the summer winds down and parents start preparing to send their children back to school, we are preoccupied with getting them the latest fashions and most up to date supplies that they might need. The one thing that we do not think about is the effects that carrying a heavy backpack that is overloaded with all of those books and supplies that they need has on their bodies.
When a backpack is used properly it will distribute the weight of the load making it easier to carry. If overloaded, however, it can lead to overcompensation by the back causing back pain. Over time these compensatory patterns can cause the shoulders to be rounded, the head to be carried in a more forward posture, and distortion of the spines natural curves. All of these things can lead to muscle sprains and strains, and stress on the joints and ribs. This can also cause the body to lean forward, causing it to be off balance and in danger of falling and causing further injury. Some of the symptoms that your child might present may be headaches, lower back pain, upper back pain, shoulder pain, and arm pain. They may also get tingling and numbness in their arms and hands along with muscle weakness.
The pain and symptoms caused by backpacks is avoidable. Doctors recommend a weight of 10-15% of the child’s body weight to prevent injury. There are also some features that you can look for on your backpack to prevent injuries and pain. Be sure that they are made from a lightweight material, have padded straps and back, individualized compartments to help distribute weight, and hip straps or waist belts to redistribute weight from the shoulders. If there is no way of preventing a heavy load, then a separate bag for laptops and heavy electronics, or a rolling bag is recommended. Also be sure to carry the bag on both shoulders, properly distribute weight with heavier objects lower and closer to the body, adjust the straps to fit snugly against the body so that the bag is not loose and hanging, and do not lean forward when walking with your backpack on.
The good thing is that most of these symptoms are temporary. If they do persist and your child continues to complain about any of them please contact Keystone Body Therapies at 480-686-8647 to schedule their free consultation, and to learn more about how our therapeutic bodywork and neuromuscular re-education services can help them get back to 100%.