Heavy backpacks can cause health risks for children

Back to school is right around the corner, and parents are starting to shop for supplies, like the coveted backpack.

The backpack will fill up quickly with supplies, paper, and books – and could become quite heavy. Something you might want to consider is the health risks an overweight backpack could present to your child.

The American Chiropractic Association recommends that your child’s backpack weigh no more that 10 percent of his or her body weight.

Lower back pain and achy muscles are usually adult issues, so if a child starts complaining of aches and pains or even headaches – that’s a sign their bag may be too heavy.

Dr. Ashley Kauffman of Rushmore Family Chiropractic says a heavy backpack “can cause kids to have back pain or neck pain if it’s too heavy. They tend to a slouch forward, and then their head goes [forward]. And one of the things about when your head goes forward is it actually increases the weight of your head that your neck perceives.”

Overloaded backpacks can cause poor posture as well. Their bodies are still growing and forming. If it’s not corrected, many of those problems can become chronic and cause your children problems as they become adults.

To lighten the load, encourage students to keep what they can in their locker. And remind your child to always use both straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. Kaufmann says you want everything on your body to be even. The backpack should land within the torso between the shoulders and waist, not over the buttocks. Doctors recommend smaller backpacks with wide straps.

And the constant nitpicking by Mom to sit up straight is sound advice.

“What do you do repetitively is going to stick, so if your kids are always slouching forward and then they sit at their desk and they slouch forward, that’s going to stay … as soon as everything goes forward it actually gives less space for your organs. Periods of sitting up straight, like your mama told you, is really what you should be doing.”

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