Packing Pain? How to Prevent Backpack Injuries

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DALLAS -- Were you ever that kid with everything in your book bag but the kitchen sink? Well, dragging that heavy backpack could be dragging down your health, according to chiropractors.

“It’s not normal to have back pain for anybody, but particularly for a young healthy spine,” said Mark Mandell, D.C., Parker Professional Executive Director at Parker University.

Parker says up to 7,000 students come into the emergency room each year with these back issues.

“That’s a serious level of injury. The stress from all the books that the students are carrying can put a lot of postural distortion patterns on the kids,” he explained.  “That can create long-term back pain or other problems that can affect them later in life.”

What does your backpack look like?

“The thin strap backpack is great if you’re running out for a quick event. But if there’s a lot of weight, can cut into the shoulders and it can cause nerve impingement,” Parker said while holding a small gym sack.  “What’s recommended is a backpack with padded straps.”

Mandell says use the 10% body weight rule.

“If a child is 100 pounds, a maximum weight of the backpack should be no more than 10 pounds," Mandell explained.

"A lot of kids these days think it’s cool to wear a backpack with just one strap, and what that can do is create a lifting of the shoulder or the dropping of the shoulder. To compensate, they’ll lift the shoulder and it really distorts the back pattern and the spine, the disk, the bone structures and the vertebra.”

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