School going children are in the vulnerable age group of 5 to 15 years. From kindergarten to high school, they have to carry books and other stationery on their backs. They rely on backpacks to hold their belongings safe and secure. However, these very backpacks may turn from a boon into a curse. Yes, we are talking about heavy, overloaded backpacks. Over a while, the strain of carrying such heavy bags shows on your kid’s backbone. The kids develop problems in the spine and back.
Hefty backpack problems
Kids carry their backpack on the back by pulling straps over the shoulders. School children tend to carry a large number of books, which makes this backpack very hefty. Carrying this excessive weight might seem like nothing at the beginning.
But as time passes, the children show a long face. The stress is due to their joints, ligaments, and muscles show the strain. They undergo wear and tear across the length of their entire backside and even the hips.
All these body parts are subjected to stress, and they carry the extra weight without any ease. Since children lack the necessary strength and stamina, they develop some serious problems. Apart from stiffness, the children might develop muscle degeneration, stiffness, pain, and loss of stretching ability.
These effects are not limited to specific body areas either. They force other parts of the body to compensate for the loss of ability, thereby weakening more muscles. Gradual degeneration usually leads to chronic back pain and compressed spinal discs (herniated discs). The children also complain of neck pain, and their very posture gets altered. Even the gait suffers, and the child might complain of constant feet pain. Orthopedic and spinal surgeons request parents not to take these symptoms lightly.
Why backpack affects the spine?
The experts noted that, in a neutral position, the spine experiences a force that is 7.2 times the backpack’s weight. But when the spine is bent forward by about 20 degrees, the force experienced increases to 11.6 times the bag’s weight. This result is not very baffling if you are a parent.
Novices think that the spine is straight, but in a neutral position, it is in shape of alphabet “s”(side profile). Because of this, ignorant people think the bag is only pulling in the downwards direction. But in reality, the weight puts pressure on a particular area of the spine, and the resultant forces also weigh in there.
The scientific study is only an indicator of accuracy, and there is no conclusive evidence. The analyses, however, do suggest that –
- Neutral position – a 50-pound boy carrying 5-pound backpack would become 36 pounds of pressure on the spine
- Slumped forward (by 20 degrees) – For the same scenario, the pressure on the spine increases to 58 pounds (more than the child’s body weight).
How much can a backpack weigh?
As per experts in ergonomics and medical sciences,
- Children should carry backpacks that do not weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of their total body weight.
- Studies done by experts also suggest that pre-teens should carry backpacks that do not weigh more than 13 to 15 percent of their body weight.
- Those who are in the late teens and over that age should carry backpacks that do not weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of their body weight.
If you are looking for avoiding long-term muscle and skeletal deformities or conditions, here are some of the corrective tips.
- Posture correctness: Proper posture while carrying the bag is of vital importance. Always be alert and pay attention to how your kids are standing up. The ears should always be above the shoulder line. Also, your shoulders should be held back so that the chest is open. And finally, keep the back straight at all times. If you believe that your child’s incorrect posture rises from any underlying skeletal or muscular problem, please visit a chiropractor. Surf for a chiropractor near me on the internet and start treatment as early as possible for better results.
- Lifts and movements: Do not lift your bag by bending or in a sudden or jerky manner. This jerky movement will put a lot of strain on your lower back. Instead, lift your bag from the ground by bending the knees.
- Lightweight baggage: Always keep only the necessary number of belongings in the backpack. Make use of the school schedule, lockers and class time-tables to avoid carrying extra items.
- Strapping: Tighten both straps of the backpack for even weight distribution. Always make use of the chest or waist strap of your backpack (if it has one).
- Packing trick: Always pack the heavier objects like textbooks closer to the center of your backside.
Carry digital textbooks to the classrooms, if you are permitted to do so by the school. Put the school’s allotted lockers or available storage space to avoid an over-packed bag. Consult a doctor or a chiropractor if you are already experiencing a stiff back or side pain.