Preserving spine health in children

Preserving spine health in children

Back-to-school backpack tips

It’s that time again – that time when children trade swimsuits and otter pops for books and backpacks. But as you prepare to send your kids back to the classroom, do you know what’s in their backpack?

For all of the technology we have today, most students still carry books, notebooks and other supplies in a shoulder strap backpack. Carrying the excess weight can be a problem, though, and many caregivers aren’t aware of the potential danger.

Children with overly heavy backpacks might complain of back pain, neck trouble or headaches, and might even be doing long-term damage to their back, as the excess weight puts undue stress on their intervertebral discs. What’s more, it can impact the health of joints, such as the shoulders and hips, and can even impair balance.

So what’s a parent to do? Throwing the backpack out altogether isn’t practical, so here are a few tips to ensure safe use:

  1. Don’t overload the pack. A good rule of thumb is 15 percent of the child’s body weight – for a 50-pound child that would be 7-8 pounds. Consider it in adult terms – would a 150-pound adult reasonably be expected to carry a 22-pound pack around every day?
  2. Use the backpack as it’s intended. Parents should encourage youth to use both shoulder straps to avoid bending the spine and shoulders at uneven angles.
  3. Carefully consider what to leave at home or in the classroom. Checking the bag every week can ensure that unnecessary materials don’t add unneeded bulk. If you’re not sure about what needs to be included, check with your child’s teacher.
  4. Seek alternatives. For instance, if your school allows them, consider a rolling pack, which doesn’t stress the spine.
  5. Keep your child active. Regular exercise will help to build muscle, which supports the spine. It can even benefit mental well-being and academic performance by keeping the mind sharp.

Arizona Brain & Spine Center – Specialists in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Scottsdale
We offer exceptional care and treatment options for a wide range of spinal and neurological disorders, which affect the brain, spine, nerves, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. If you are experiencing lower back pain, please give us a call to setup an appointment.