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Heavy backpacks causing injuries in children

Posted at 7:26 AM, Sep 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 08:35:42-04

Kids are starting to come home with loads of homework, and that means backpacks being too heavy.

Dr. James Ross said 15,000 patients seek medical care for a backpack injury every single year.

He explained, “In order to compensate for too heavy a load, a child has to lean forward at the hips, flexing or extending their torso forward and extending their neck forward. What this does is it puts an unnatural amount of stress and strain on the spine as well as the ligaments, muscles, and tendons.”

Dr. Ross says that causes inflammation or pain in the neck, shoulders, lower back, hips, and knees.

Licensed massage therapist at R3 Stretch Vivian Arrington said, “The straps from a heavy load in a backpack can compress some of the veins in the shoulders. So, if they have a really, really heavy backpack that they wear all the time with hunching all day, they could get tingling down their arms and nerve pain in their neck.”

Researchers suggest a child’s backpack should weigh no more that 10 percent of what the student weighs. So, a 70-pound 10-year-old should only carry up to 7 pounds.
Children want to make sure that the heaviest books are toward the back, closest to their spine so they have a better center of gravity and are not leaning back or hunching forward. They want to put the lighter stuff toward the front.

It’s also important that your child’s straps are tight so they have a higher center of gravity. Kids also should wear a backpack on both shoulders – not leaning over to one side.

Arrington said, “You’re going to kind of lean over. So, a lot of these muscles are going to be stretched out; a lot of these are going to be shortened, and these are constantly going to be under stress, so you’re going to have off balance.”

And it’s not just the weight of the backpack - slinging all that weight is also sometimes harmful.

So, kids should carry some books in their arms and, of course, don’t load up backpacks with things they don’t need.

Last year, the government in India banned homework for certain age groups to avoid heavy backpacks causing spinal damage.

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