Three reasons your child may be experiencing back pain when returning to school and what you need to know

Three reasons your child may be experiencing back pain when returning to school and what you need to know

It is the start of the school year and the annual ritual of your child meeting their teachers, shopping for supplies, and the resumption of learning.

It is also the time of the year they come home with a stack of school books, one heavier than the next and all carried in their backpack.

The weight of the books is an issue year after year. The American Chiropractic Association recommends ideally carrying textbooks not exceeding 10 percent of the child’s weight. Often, this is exceeded, especially in younger children.

During the Month of September, our office features our free back pain weight in the station in the reception area. You can bring in your child and their books, and go through the process. The directions are printed out and we will answer any questions you may have.

When shopping for a backpack, be sure it is well-designed and distributes the weight evenly. This makes it easier to load it up with books and not become a hazard.

Some schools are beginning to use electronic devices such as Kindle or iPad, acknowledging the problem and looking for a practical solution. Solutions such as the iPad are easily portable (less than 2 lbs) and they can carry all the student’s books while costing as much or less than the actual texts would. An overloaded backpack is a big reason for back pain in children.

If you have conventional books, weigh them, weigh your child and try your best to limit the number of books they carry to 10 percent of their body weight. Our office does this by setting up our annual September backpack weigh-in.

If you are shopping for shoes, as most parents have already done, look at your child’s feet. Are they flat? Do they flare out? These are potential causes of lower back pain and can also cause other painful problems in the hips and the knees. The best advice is to purchase off-the-shelf inserts. Avoid inexpensive brands like Dr. Scholl since they are not stiff enough. We like Spenco (with the hard plastic bottom, not the jells) and also super feet. The are of course others that are good as well. They may outgrow them as they outgrow shoe sides however, these inserts are not very expensive and can be easily replaced as the child grows. Children with these traits should also avoid flat sandals such as old navy and Havana’s.

If your child has foot problems and goes through a growth spurt, they may experience pain not from the growth but from the tension which is already abnormal due to poor body mechanics. The growth spurt will increase this tension causing growing pains, pain while running especially in track athletes. Females going through puberty are of special concern because their hips may begin to widen. This increases the angle at the knee and has caused many problems with cruciate ligaments rupturing during sports such as basketball. You can ask the high school trainer to look at the child or your local qualified sports physician. Many chiropractors take extra care in evaluating these situations which are often just ignored as part of growing. Injury avoidance is always preferable to having knee surgery.

What do you think? As always, I value your input.

For more information or to improve your understanding of this, read the book Cheating Mother Nature, now available on