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Back Pain in Kids

Think about it...Does your child carry around a heavy backpack?

There are starting to be more reports of younger adults and children experiencing back pain. One of the major contributors to these reports is kids carrying backpacks that are too heavy or they're carrying them on one shoulder. Carrying an overweight backpack all day every day can cause some major discomfort in your child's low back.

Repetitive stress issues make up a majority of the cases that I see in the office. Whether that be from a construction worker who uses a hammer all day repeating the same motion over and over again, to a desk jockey who pounds away at a keyboard all day stuck in the same position. These types of problems are typically worse than the acute problems. When a kid carries a backpack all day, that is exactly the same thing as these repetitive stress issues. The risk goes up with the amount of weight they are carrying around.

The backpack causes the muscles of the chest and front part of the shoulder to work harder, so when it comes time to take it off, those muscles become tense pulling the shoulders forward creating a rounded appearance. This in turn leads to poor posture and other negative effects that go along with that, which I will talk about in an upcoming blog post. When carrying it on one shoulder it puts an uneven strain on the surrounding muscles and joints and can lead to the same postural issues. Overtime the body will start to compensate for the uneven strain from the backpack and cause issues when not wearing it, such as, low back pain and stiffness.

I will have you do something as part of this blog post. I ask you to go pick up your child's backpack and check how heavy it is. Weigh it and see if it is more than 10% of your child's weight. If it is, it shouldn't be. The research recommends that the backpack be no heavier than 10% of what your child weighs. Tell your child to use two straps instead of one in order to have even pressure and distribute the weight. Having a smaller backpack will also decrease the weight by simply decreasing the amount that can be put in it. One more important tip is to try and find a backpack with thick padded straps. Now, there is a good chance that there will be no permanent long term damage from carrying a backpack around, but if you could reduce your child's pain and better their posture so that it doesn't lead into another issue, it is worth doing.

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