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Is Your Child Packing Too Much?

September 10, 2012, 6:07 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Is Your Child Packing Too Much?

They can get large and are often filled with homework and books.  But heavy backpacks can lead to severe back pain for students.

Between 2010 and 2011, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission says backpack injuries increased 6.5 percent among kids aged five to 18.

Some kids are excited to head back to school and show off their latest fall fashions and book bags featuring Disney princesses and Hello Kitty.

"I kind of just let her pick it out. Otherwise I don't think she would carry it," Mirabelle's mother, Jersey Johnson, said.

But if your child is not wearing the appropriate backpack, it can actually damage his or her spine.

"It can cause a lot of different spinal disorders over time, a lot of misalignments within the spine, gets interference within the nervous system.  So the child can end up with different kids of pains and issues with the spine," Envive Director of Chiropractic Dr. Nathan Unruh said.

Dr. Unruh says the bag should never weigh more than ten percent of your child's body weight and should fit your child correctly.

"When we look at a backpack like this one, we want to make sure the pack doesn't extend beyond their waist. We don't want it to fall any lower than four inches below their waistline," Unruh said.

It's also a good idea to have a pad between the pack and the child's spine.  And even if it's not cool at school, your child should use both shoulder straps.

"If you just think about the biomechanics of wearing it on one shoulder and the extra stress it puts on the spine long-term, doing that day in and out causes ill effects long-term," Unruh said.

They're problems Johnson is not packing with her just yet.  But she fears it could be an issue in the future.

"I think once she gets in the older grades with more books, hopefully they'll allow the roller backpacks," Johnson said.

Some signs that your child may be wearing too heavy of a backpack include ongoing neck and low back pain along with headaches.

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