Friday, August 3, 2012

Make Buying a Backpack Painless by Dr. Heidi Shelton

 This article appears in the August 2012 issue of Natural Awakenings - Las Vegas

With the school year fast approaching, one item that requires special attention is a child’s backpack. Long-term, heavy backpack use can lead to poor posture and chronic back pain, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that backpack-related injuries sends thousands of people to the emergency room each year. The longer a child may wear the backpack each day because many schools have removed lockers from their premises, the more likely it is that an injury will occur.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) makes recommendations to help reduce back pain due to heavy backpack use, including that the child's backpack weigh no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight and never hang more than four inches below the waistline.

A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively, so make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on the back.

The bigger the backpack, the more weight a child will be tempted to carry. Two wide, padded and adjustable shoulder straps should be used, because lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause a disproportionate weight shift to one side.

If a backpack is very heavy, talk to a teacher about rethinking homework assignments. Perhaps the child could leave the heaviest books at school and bring home lighter handout materials or workbooks.

Although the use of rollerpacks, or backpacks on wheels, has become popular, the ACA is recommending that they be used cautiously and on a limited basis, only by students that are not physically able to carry a regular backpack.

Dr. Heidi Shelton is a chiropractor at Summerlin Chiropractic Associates, 1215 S. Fort Apache, Ste. 140, Las Vegas.