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Local chiropractors weigh in on preventing youth back pain from backpacks

Local physicians say children shouldn't wear backpacks that weigh more than 15% of their body weight.

Doctors and teachers say it's common for students to carry their backpacks with them in school throughout the day, but depending on how they carry their bags it may not be good for their back.

At North Central Junior High, heavy backpacks aren't something students have to worry about.

"One thing that we do to try to get out in front of that is we have a lot of online textbooks," said Colby Miller, the principal of North Central Junior High.

That's not the case for every school, which is why doctors are warning parents of the importance of buying the right backpack for their kids: one with two straps.

"You don't want to wear just one strap because that could cause a different posture than you'd like," said Dr. Alex Riniker, a chiropractor at Revive Family Chiropractic in Marion.

Dr. Riniker sees kids of all ages come to his practice with their backpack loaded with books. He makes sure to tell parents it's important a bag doesn't weigh more than 15% of their child's weight.

"If you think about a 50 pound child, ten to fifteen percent of that would be only 5 to 10 pounds or 5 to 12 pounds," said Dr. Riniker.

Another way to prevent problems, placing heavier books in a certain area of their backpack.

"The bigger books--you would like to have closer to the spine or the body because if you don't then more of the weight is back and then kids walk back or lean back more," said Dr. Riniker.

Beyond their backpack, there are things students can do to help limit any back pain when in school.

"Sitting in an upright posture and not leaning forward -- you know, on a computer on a phone -- all the time," said Dr. Riniker.

The most important item Dr. Riniker recommends is for parents to take their kids seriously if they bring up back pain.

"Pain is a symptom -- and that's actually a good thing because that's our body's way of saying hey there's a problem here and there's something that needs to be helped or fixed," said Dr. Riniker.

The staff at Revive Family Chiropractic say some of the first signs of a spine problem is if a child starts to complain about pain from their mid-back to their lower neck. If that's noticed, parents should immediately see their child's physician.


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