Osteopath Warns Against Children Wearing Too Heavy Backpacks

Today’s youth frequently express back pain from lugging bulky bags to school. Health professionals are now warning parents to double-check their children’s book bags as a result of this developing issue. They claim that many underestimate the effects that overweight book backpacks might have on youngsters.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s data provides a clearer picture of the problem’s gravity. The organization calculates that from 2017 to 2019, 7,500 children under 19 had catastrophic backpack-related injuries annually on average. The kids’ injuries were serious enough to need trips to the hospital’s emergency department.

Even while the majority of children with back pain don’t need to go to the ER, it can still be difficult for them. For instance, a mother of a 12-year-old girl told Fox News that her daughter had complained of upper back and neck pain for months.

The mother from Long Island, New York, at first assumed her daughter’s participation in athletics may account for her physical pains. But after seeing their family doctor, she learned that her daughter’s overstuffed bag was to blame.

She carried the bag to and from school while dragging a backpack full of books from classroom to classroom throughout the day. That’s a lot of lifting,” the mother said in an interview with Fox News Digital.

Her daughter had osteopathic treatment for many weeks to treat her neck and back problems after the consultation. Her mobility was improved with spinal manipulation, which relieved strain in her joints. To strengthen her upper back and support the weight of the book bag, the osteopath also suggested an exercise program.

Health professionals advise parents to monitor their child’s backpack weight. They provided the following red flags of an overstuffed book bag:

  • The youngster finds it difficult to put on or remove the backpack.
  • When a child is wearing a book bag, their posture changes (for example, they lean to the side or forward).
  • The young person laments having tingling or numbness in their extremities.
  • The book backpack leaves red stains on the kid’s shoulders.
  • The youngster complains of pain from wearing the backpack.

Health Professionals Describe How Heavy Backpacks Affect Children

Back discomfort is a common complaint that Dr. David Gentile, an osteopathic doctor from New York, often addresses. He told Fox News that hefty backpacks might negatively impact children’s posture. Scoliosis, or the curving and twisting of the spine, can be brought on by carrying a book bag.

Each year, thousands of kids and teenagers are treated for the illness. Gentile thinks that educating kids about good posture and self-care might help to avoid spine disorders.

The elder age frequently uses comfy seats at work and sit-stand workstations, he noted. Therefore, “it is clear that our awareness of optimal job ergonomics has increased.

To enhance children’s health outcomes, it may be time to properly teach them about these convenient and useful adjustments, said Gentile.

To assist prevent childhood back pain, he continued, public health initiatives should be launched in communities around the nation. Gentile claimed that pain caused by youngsters carrying too much weight might be reduced by early detection of symptoms and hereditary variables.

Physical therapists in physical education classes, as well as instruction on proper ergonomics for teachers, administrators, kids, and their families, might all be advantageous, he continued.

When back-to-school shopping, the majority of people don’t give their child’s backpack a second consideration. However, picking one with the right fit and weight capability can make a difference, according to Edward Farrell, co-founder of Physical Solutions Physical Therapy.

He told Fox News that, if they stop at their lockers at all, “our students are frequently plotting the navigation of the corridors, locker to classes, with as minimal pauses as possible at their locker.”

Farrell stated that back pain might result from a child’s book bag weighing a significant portion of their body weight.

Imagine having a youngster who weighs 100 pounds carry a 30-pound bag all day, Farrell added.

Additionally, he claimed that backpacks with just one strap over the shoulder might exacerbate shoulder and back problems. A sling pack places too much pressure on one side of the body, which might lead to scoliosis. Even with a perfectly fitting book bag with two straps, a hefty load might cause toddlers to lean to one side or have rounded shoulders.

Tips on Choosing a Quality Backpack

Farrell recommended students use a pack with two broad straps and minimize the weight of their pack. By doing this, the load is distributed more evenly across the neck and shoulders. To preserve proper posture, he said, pupils should most significantly stand tall with their chests out.

Physical therapist Bill Schwarz of Massapequa, New York, advised students to make several journeys to their lockers to lighten their baggage. Many students take all of their books to save time, which adds unneeded weight to their backpacks.

Also from Schwarz: “Keep straps snug. If the bag is excessively loose, it hangs lower and puts more strain on the mid and low spine.

Finally, he counseled pupils to pick up their luggage off the floor while bending their knees. The lower back and knees won’t experience unnecessary strain thanks to this position.

These recommendations for selecting backpacks come from physical therapists and osteopaths:

  • Choose a lightweight bag with broad, cushioned shoulder straps and a roomy back lining.
  • Use both straps on a pack with two straps when carrying the bag.
  • The bottom of the backpack should rest four inches below the waist, in the center of the back.
  • To give your back and shoulders even more support, get a pack with a waist belt.
  • A child’s backpack shouldn’t be more than 10% to 15% of their body weight. For instance, the backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10-15 pounds if the child is 100 pounds.
  • Choose a bag with multiple compartments, and make use of each one when transporting books. To promote good posture, position the heaviest books closest to the spine.
  • Back pain brought on by conventional backpacks can be eliminated with a pack with wheels. But keep in mind that your youngster could have to carry them across uneven ground and up stairwells.

Final Thoughts Regarding an Osteopath’s Advice on Lightweight Backpacks

Many students transport their whole library from one class to the next. While it can save time, doing so could put unnecessary strain on your neck and back. Health professionals advise students to reduce their weight by making many visits to their desks or lockers. To prevent back strain, they should use a lightweight book bag with two straps. Many youngsters may prevent back discomfort if teachers assisted pupils in selecting the correct pack and promoted healthy practices.

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