How Much Should A 3 Month Old Baby Boy Weigh Backpacks – Not Your Spine’s Best Friend

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Backpacks – Not Your Spine’s Best Friend

Alas, the new school year has arrived! At the top of every child’s list of school supplies is a new backpack. Although backpacks vary in style, color and size, they all share one thing in common: they are harmful to your child’s spinal health. According to a 1998 article in the prestigious scientific journal Spine, by the time a young adult has graduated from high school, she has experienced at least one episode of back pain, due in part to improper backpack use.

Children carry excessive weight on their backs. In fact, a backpack can easily weigh more than 20 pounds. Such pressure on a child’s back in early adolescence can result in premature degeneration of the spine. But how do backpacks cause so much damage? Backpacks cause postural shifts, which can then result in a shift in spinal alignment. Displacements of the spinal vertebrae are called vertebral subluxations (also known as vertebral subluxation complex). Vertebral subluxations can lead to back and neck pain, muscle tension, muscle imbalance/asymmetry, reduced range of motion, and early degeneration and arthritic changes of the spine.

When a child walks with a loaded backpack hanging over one shoulder (say on the right side), he compensates by leaning in the opposite direction. As a result, other areas of the body also compensate for the weight imbalance. Further compensations result in the muscles working much harder on one side of the body than the other. Take this scenario and repeat it on a weekly, daily or monthly basis, and it’s easy to see how this situation can turn into a big problem. Similarly, look at your child from the side while carrying a backpack. You will quickly notice their head moving forward, once again compensating for the excess strain being placed on their spine.

As chiropractors who focus on structural correction of the spine, we are now seeing a higher incidence of children and young adults with severe neck and back pain. What parents often don’t realize is that the child’s spine is still in its development phase. Considering that the human spine becomes far more stable in the middle and late teenage years, it is easy to understand how unnecessary pressure applied to the spine in preadolescence and adolescence can leave a permanent scar (not unlike leaving an imprint in wet cement). Unfortunately, spinal damage at such a young age is likely to result in debilitating pain and early arthritic changes that will be most evident in later years.

So how do we prevent spinal damage that can occur from backpacking? Recommendations from Backpack Safety America® include tips for buying a backpack and proper lifting techniques:

1. Make sure the backpack has straps. The belt strap serves as a means of stabilization when tied around the waist.

2. The backpack should have a structurally reinforced base. This will prevent unnecessary sagging that is usually found in cheaper models.

3. When the child is preparing to put on the backpack, have them face the backpack when lifting it onto their shoulders.

4. Next, have them bend at the knees, crouch, and use their legs (not their backs) to lift their backpacks (always lift with their legs).

5. Have the child slip one arm at a time under the straps, securing both straps comfortably around the shoulders.

6. Finally, make sure that all the straps are adjusted so that the backpack fits snugly against the body.

As mentioned earlier, vertebral subluxation complex (vsc) is a condition in which the spine is forced out of its normal position. The consequences are far wider than neck and back pain. Flip through any anatomy book and you’ll see that the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) communicate with every cell, tissue, gland, and organ in the body via nerves that exit the spine. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that changes in spinal alignment can easily interfere with optimal nervous system function.

My favorite backpack company is Airpacks. They are modern and much better on the spine due to the extra cushioning and air pockets in the shoulder straps and lower back, easing the tension and weight of the spine.

Chiropractors who focus on structural correction of the spine and vertebral subluxation complex (vsc) practice a chiropractic technique called Clinical Biomechanics of Posture. CBP is a corrective technique that is not part of the standard curriculum at any chiropractic college around the world. CBP doctors undertake extensive postgraduate studies in the fields of spinal biomechanics and biophysics. CBP is supported by more peer-reviewed research in scientific (medical) journals than any other chiropractic technique.

When parents bring their children to many chiropractic offices, they do a very thorough structural evaluation. In addition to offering structural corrective care, they go above and beyond by providing education to help families establish proper postural habits that will prevent any further damage to their spine and inhibit the development of vertebral subluxation complex. In our practice, we believe that the greatest gift a parent can give their child is the gift of health. Since health and well-being depend on the proper functioning of the nervous system, it is easy to understand the benefits of structural corrective chiropractic care.

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