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Backpacks: Lighten Your Child's Load

As millions of kids get ready to go back to school, many will pull out old backpacks or purchase new ones. While the books, homework assignments, lunches, and other school gear those bags carry may be important for success in school, some experts point to backpack use as the leading cause of a growing trend in back pain among youngsters. In fact, a recent study conducted in Italy found that nearly 60 percent of children carrying heavy backpacks experienced back pain as a result.

Some states, such as California and New Jersey, have taken legislative action to reduce the weight of students’ backpacks in their school districts. However, even for residents of those states, government regulation may not be enough. Whether you are looking out for your child’s welfare or you use a backpack yourself, here are some steps recommended by the American Chiropractic Association to lighten the load.

Tips for purchasing a new pack:

  • Be selective. Look for ergonomically designed packs, such as the Samsonite Chiropak, that distribute weight evenly along the shoulders and spine. Ask your chiropractor for suggestions, and have him or her look at the fit of a pack you have purchased.
  • Go small. The smaller the pack, the less likely your child is to overload it with books and other materials. Look for packs that feature special compartments for different types of items— such as pencils, calculators, books, or folders.
  • Select wide, padded straps. Backpacks that are designed with broader straps and ample padding are much more comfortable— and healthier.

How to use a backpack wisely:

  • Lighten up. Aim for a backpack weight of no more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight. That means if your child weighs 85 pounds, her pack shouldn’t exceed 8.5 pounds. If your child is required to carry weight above that 10 percent, talk to your child’s teacher about ways to reduce the load.
  • Position correctly. A properly adjusted backpack will create less stress on the back. Make sure the pack doesn’t hang too low (four inches or more below the waist) which can strain the back.
  • Two is better than one. Educate your child about the importance of wearing both shoulder straps, which will distribute weight more evenly.

If you or your child experience tingling or numbness in the hands, or discomfort in the back or neck after wearing a backpack, discontinue use and seek the advice of your doctor of chiropractic.

Multicare Health Clinic

3930 STADIUM DR
SIOUX CITY, IA 51106
Phone Number: (712) 276-4325

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  • "After my knee surgery I was asked where I wanted to do my physical therapy, I chose Multicare Health Clinic and I'm so glad I did! Dr. Steve and the therapy assistants (Sara and Megan) are fabulous! They know what they're doing and they all really seemed to care about my recovery. I'm feeling fantastic! I'll definitely go back again whenever I need therapy or adjustments."
    Sheri J.
  • "At night my right hand would go painfully numb at least 2-3 times where I could not sleep. Now, I don't have that pain and can get a full night sleep."
    Janet D.
  • "I'm a runner. When I wasn't able to run due to leg problems, I was devastated. But a consultation at Multicare Health Clinic identified the problem and after some adjustments, stimulation treatments and therapy, I'm running again!"
    Lisa L.
  • "Not only is my pain level down to zero, but what I'm really thrilled with, is that I have normal feeling in my hands."
    Jill L.
  • "Being able to present my back pain to three different professions in one place and knowing that they are working together to make me better is very comforting."
    Charlie P.
  • "I wasn't able to use my hand the way I should. After working with Dr. Sneller and the physical therapy team, I can use my hand again."
    Henry H.
  • "I leave here feeling confident that I have the resources to manage my pain and live normally, and that's priceless."
    Alycen V.
  • "My company encouraged all of us employees to get screened at Multicare. I didn't know what to expect. It was easy and I learned so much. The orthotics they prescribed really help me to feel more stable and confident at work."
    Jim J.
  • "I wasn't able to use my hand the way I should. After working with Dr. Sneller and the physical therapy team, I can use my hand again."
    Ivy I.
  • "I'm so glad my sister referred me to Multicare! My elbow hasn't felt this good in a long time. Thanks to the great physical therapy team there."
    Ellen E.
  • "I now can go a full week without pain and headaches."
    Luke W.
  • "After an accident at work I didn't think I'd ever get relief from my aching shoulder. But, the doctors at Multicare gave me adjustments and physical therapy and now I feel normal again."
    Cliff C.
  • "Dr. Sneller helped. I haven't been feeling dizzy anymore."
    Belinda B
  • "I'm now a believer now! I didn't think chiropractic could help my foot problems. But after meeting with Dr. Pistello and Dr. Dave for a few weeks, I'm feeling so much better!"
    Gino G.
  • "There couldn't be a better physical therapy team in Siouxland! Not only did my knee feel so much better after six weeks, but I feel like I made new friends."
    Karla K.
  • "My shoulder and neck feel so much better. I now have the knowledge, motivation, desire and tools to keep up the exercises."
    Barb B.
  • "After my consultatin with the doctors at Multicare Health Clinic, I understand how to address my balance issues."
    Anna A.