Back to School: Simple steps to prevent pain.

backpackI hope we replace traditional books with e-books before one more child develops chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.

Without that luxury, we need to teach our children how to carry too many heavy textbooks at one time.

More young children develop chronic back pain today than in previous generations. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says more than 7,000 people ended up in emergency rooms because of backpack-related injuries just in 2001.

The average youngster carries a backpack weighing the equivalent of 39 pounds for a 176-pound man or 29 pounds for a 132-pound woman.

Some urban schools are eliminating lockers, which forces children to carry more.

But until today’s educational systems can afford Kindles and iPads, here are some simple steps to help your child avoid back, neck or shoulder pain:

Backpacks shouldn’t weigh any more than 5-10 percent of your child’s weight.

If your child’s backpack is heavier, his head will lean forward and strain his back. When your child stands up straight, the straps distribute the backpack weight on his shoulders.

Buy a smaller backpack.

With less room inside, there can be less chance of a too heavy backpack.

Use both backpack straps to evenly distribute the weight of the contents.

Casually throwing the backpack over just one shoulder can cause low-back pain as well as neck and muscle spasms.

Backpacks shouldn’t hang lower than four inches below the waist.

Your child will strain his shoulders when his backpack hangs lower than that as he’ll end up leaning forward when he walks.

Individualized compartments help.

The more zippered pockets and areas the backpack has helps to evenly spread the weight. Keep scissors and sharp pencils away from your child’s back.

Choose wide padded straps.

No one likes to be uncomfortable. Non-padded straps can dig into your child’s shoulders.

Adjust backpack straps to fit your child.

Straps that are too loose don’t feel good and can cause spinal misalignment and pain.

Call your doctor.

Doctors of chiropractic are licensed and trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages. Chiropractors use gentler types of treatment for children.

They may also recommend specific exercises to help children develop strong muscles and share tips for good nutrition, posture and sleep.

Robert W. Ferguson, D.C., F.I.A.M.A., state-licensed chiropractor and acupuncturist, sees patients at 2250 W. 86th Street, Ste. 100, on the north side of Indianapolis by Le Peep restaurant. Just look for the orange sign.

Chiropractic Rehabilitation & Acupuncture now accepts Healthy Indiana Plan for chiropractic services, and most insurance for chiropractic therapy and acupuncture.

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