Heavy back packs and their effect on your children’s back and legs. Four ways to reduce the chance of injury
Well, its that time again. They are all back in school, they are coming home with homework and the books…
There are formulas for appropriate backpack weight based on the weight of the child says the American Chiropractic Association. Ideally, if a child weighs 70 lbs, they should be carrying no more than 7 lbs of books. As a parent, you know that this is unrealistic and as a result, you look for the best and most comfortable backpack you can purchase. There are many good ones available that are well padded.
The biggest concern is how the backpack distributes the weight especially if it is overweight. Many doctors of chiropractic during September offer a free backpack weigh-in. The idea is, they have a doctors scale set up in the office or in the case of our office, the lobby. The directions state to weigh the books, then weigh the child and then do the math which is loaded backpack weight/child’s weight. The books should ideally be no more than 10 percent of their weight.
The weight issue will affect some children more than others because of their body style. You should evaluate your own school age children to see if they have flat feet, or do their feet flare out or are they build asymmetrically, where one foot flares more than the other. These are signs that your child may experience problems from heavy back packs, since an asymmetrical body style will not naturally handle a heavier backpack as well. This is because they are built in a way that is similar to you lifting boxes in an awkward position; they have less leverage and this tightens up their legs and their hips and lower back. The good news is that if you see this, there are things you as a parent can do to help.
What you should do.
1. Have your child take only the books they need and leave the rest either at home or at school. This decreases the weight they have to lug around during the day and decreases the chance they will experience problems.
2. Check your child’s feet. If they are flat, or if they flare or one foot turns out more than another, go to the store and purchase superfeet, or spenco off the shelf orthotic inserts.There are other brands that are good; these are some of the better ones. If they wear sandals, they should have arches and they should avoid flat sandals or flat bottomed shoes.
3. Some schools are switching to books on a kindle or iPad. They are finding that this is better for the child, is more versatile for them and the overall cost is the same or less than lugging around traditional books.
4. Have your family chiropractor screen the children if you are still not sure. Chiropractors do many back to school screenings for their children. If you had problems, since many of these problems are inherited (As discussed in the book Cheating Mother Nature, What you need to know to beat chronic pain), it is likely they do as well and a professional opinion will put your mind at rest.
What do you think? As always, I value your opinion.