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ADVERTISING: Advertorial — DR. WAYNE M. FICHTER: Child’s Backpack Leading to Back Pain?

| August 26, 2020 1:00 AM

With school right around the corner, it’s time to start shopping for school supplies. One of the most overlooked items is your child’s backpack.

Here’s a sobering statistic. In 2011, nearly 14,000 children ages 5 to 18 were hospitalized for backpack-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And that’s not even counting college students.

Heavy backpacks can be a factor leading to back pain in the absence of traditional causes of childhood pain. Recent studies have suggested that the weight of some backpacks can be 20 to 40% of a child’s own body weight. Studies have indicated that the greater the percentage of backpack weight to a child’s own weight is related to increased complaints of back pain. Some studies show that excessive backpack weight and improper wear may be contributing to the rise in back pain within the school age patient population. The extra weight that some students carry on their backs combined with improper mechanics can cause enormous strain to the spine, not unlike that seen with athletic injuries. If symptoms seem to be related to backpack use, here are several tips you may offer to facilitate symptomatic relief.

The number-one rule of thumb? The weight of your backpack shouldn’t exceed more than 10% of your body weight.

Always select a backpack that is the right size for you or your child

Distribute weight evenly. Load heaviest items closest to your back and balance materials so that you can easily stand up straight.

If a backpack has a hip belt, wear it to improve balance and take some strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles.

Check that your packed backpack weighs no more than 10% of your body weight. If it weighs more, determine what you can leave at home that day to lessen the load.

If the backpack is still too heavy, consider a book bag on wheels.

How do you know which is the right backpack for you?

You should always choose a backpack that is the right size for you. Make sure the height of the backpack extends from approximately two inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist. The proper backpack should have padded shoulder straps, a padded back and chest and hip straps. It’s important to remember that if you’ve bought a backpack for a child, the one they used the year before may no longer be the right size.

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene, 208-966-4425.