Another school year is upon us here in Northern New Jersey, and if your family is anything like all of ours, then we know your kids don’t have the time to struggle with pain and stiffness related to a back injury. That’s why our team here at Progressive Spine & Sports Rehabilitation, led by Ramsey pain doctors Dr. Steven Ferrer and Dr. Kevin McElroy, wants to stress the importance of back safety for your school-aged children.
Help Your Child Go “Back” to School With These 5 Tips for Better Spine Health
Backpacks that are too heavy, improperly loaded, or improperly carried can frequently lead to both short-term and long-term complications for young kids, adolescents, and teens. In fact, it’s been estimated that as many as 14,000 children are treated every year in the United States due to pain and injury related to backpack use.
So, to help your child avoid muscle strains, joint irritation, and other injuries that may limit their ability to participate in academics and athletics, be sure to go over the following back safety tips together:
1. BUY YOUR CHILD A BACKPACK THAT HAS WIDE PADDED STRAPS.
Wider and softer straps put less strain on a child’s shoulders, since they are designed to help distribute weight more evenly.
2. ENCOURAGE YOUR KID TO USE BOTH STRAPS.
Is it still considered “cool” to sling one strap over your shoulder? We’re not really sure, but we recommend that your kid uses both, as this can prevent asymmetrical strain on the spine. Be sure to adjust the straps snugly so the bag doesn’t hang more than 4 inches below the waist.
We also don’t recommend roller bags, as this can also lead to unnecessary strain on your child’s back and shoulders.
3. TEACH YOUR KID HOW TO LOAD A BACKPACK CORRECTLY.
Heavier items should go on the bottom so they are closer to your child’s center of gravity (this minimizes the relative load on the spine). A child should also use individualized compartments for quick and easy access to smaller items.
4. KEEP THE BAGS LIGHT.
According to organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Occupational Therapy Association, a child’s backpack should never exceed 10-15% of his or her bodyweight. So, as an example, an 85 pound child should not be expected to carry a bag weighing more than 12.75 pounds.
If necessary, talk to your child’s teachers about being able to leave heavy books at school or at home, or photocopying the necessary pages, instead of having to tote text books back and forth every day.
5. GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED IN SPORTS THEY LOVE.
Sitting all day during class can be as problematic for a child’s back health as lugging around a super heavy backpack. So, encourage your child to participate in a sport they’re interested in.
Is your child complaining of a sore back? In addition to consulting with your pediatrician, consider scheduling an appointment with our team here at Progressive Spine & Sports Rehabilitation in Ramsey, NJ. We are proud to be Northern New Jersey’s premier facility for nonsurgical orthopedic and therapy services that are good for the whole family. Call (201) 962-9199 to schedule a consultation today!