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Parents are in the midst of making key budget decisions right now in purchasing clothes and supplies for their children as they return to school. When making these decisions, the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC) asks all parents to keep their child’s health in mind when selecting their backpack.
“Children should only be carrying 10-15% of their total bodyweight in their backpacks,” says ANJC Board Member, Dr. Mike Kirk of Performance Health & Chiropractic in Moorestown. “It is estimated that at least half of all student backpacks are too heavy for children to be carrying, resulting in more cases than ever for doctors and chiropractors seeing children complaining of back pain.”
For a young child, this inordinate amount of weight can lead to altered body posture which leads to altered musculoskeletal function and pain and can have long-term health implications. Along with back pain, students can suffer from headaches, posture problems and various other health problems.
Warning signs that a child’s backpack may be causing a problem are:
- The child cannot take his backpack off or put it on without struggling
- The child has to lean forward to carry his bag
- The child has numbness or weakness in the arms and/or legs
- The child has one shoulder that is higher than the other.
To help alleviate some of the “stress” associated with backpacks, parents are urged to follow the backpack safety tips developed by the ANJC to get their kids to “lighten up”:
Choose the right back pack-Choose a backpack that has wide cushioned straps which distributes weight on the shoulders evenly. In addition, a backpack with a waist strap helps to stabilize the load by not allowing the pack to flop around.
Make sure the backpack fits properly-The straps should not be so tight that the pack goes above the collar line or is wider than the shoulders. It should also be adjusted tightly enough so that it does not hang more than four-inches below the belt line.
Pack correctly-The weight of the loaded backpack should not be more than 15 percent of the person’s total body weight, particularly with small children. Also, students should pack the heaviest objects first so that they are carried lower and closer to the body. Students should only be packing essential items.
Lift correctly - Check the weight of the backpack. Face the backpack before picking it up. Bend at the knees and make sure to lift with the legs, not with the back. Put on one strap at a time.
Wear correctly - Don’t sling the backpack over one shoulder. Messenger style bags, which get slung over one shoulder, should be avoided.
To locate and ANJC member doctor by town or zip code to assist parents in determining if their backpack is a proper fit, visit the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors’ website at www.njchiropractors.com or call (908) 722-5678.
ANJC is one of the largest associations of chiropractors in the nation, with 1700 members, statewide. ANJC’s mission is to educate its members on the latest technology and advancements in the profession and to become a trusted, relied upon information resource to the public regarding the benefits of chiropractic care.
For more information, visit ANJC’s public information website at www.njchiropractors.com or call (908) 722–5678.