Do backpacks cause children to develop spinal problems?

Posted on August 13, 2018

Your child will carry a backpack 177 days in Mecklenburg county this school year.  We have all seen small children carrying backpacks that appear to weigh as much as they do.  As a pediatric chiropractor in Charlotte, NC , I cringe at the site of a small child carrying a huge backpack.  Research has shown that a heavy backpack can lead to neck and back pain later in life.  Subsequently, when treating a teenager with chronic neck pain, back pain, scoliosis or headaches, one of the most common questions parents ask me is “Do backpacks cause children to develop spinal problems?”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child’s bodyweight. This means that if a child weights 70 lbs. their backpack should only weigh around 10 lbs.  When a backpack weights too much, it pulls a child backward causing them to compensate by bending forward and arching their back.  The picture below illustrates the unnatural strain on the spinal joints when children lean forward.  


The position of the backpack is important too.  The backpack should be tight and level with their upper back instead of low on their hips and both straps should be used.  A child might also compensate and lean to one side if they are only using 1 strap. 


Many parents that are seeking neck and back pain relief for their children, or scoliosis relief in Charlotte, also look for the source of these ailments.  While slips, falls, bad posture and sports injuries can definitely contribute to these problems, the repetition of carrying a backpack improperly or one that is too heavy can lead to spinal problems. 

When shopping for a backpack this year, be sure to look for one that has padded straps, lightweight and can adjust to a growth spurt.  The style and brand that I recommend is bixbee backpacks.  Follow this link to check them out. 

If your child is in need of a pediatric chiropractor in Charlotte, contact Active Life Chiropractic today to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Bob Mason.  

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