Believe it or not, school time looms close again. Gone are the days when we got out at the end of May for a carefree vacation until Labor Day.
I carried my books to and from school on my bicycle, a high-tech three-speed. Weight got to be more of an issue as I got older because at some point the books got thicker. Today, over 40 million kids carry book-laden backpacks daily. Thousands of emergency room visits annually document back strains related to carrying the packs.
How do you know if your child's back pack is too heavy? There are several dipsticks you might apply. First, ask you child if it is uncomfortable to carry. Boys, of course, may deny that there is a problem, but remember, they grow up to be men, for whom denial is a racial trait. Second, a rule of thumb is that no child should carry more than 10-15% of body weight. Weigh child and pack separately and do the math. Third, look for red marks on the skin when your child removes the back pack. Fourth, complaints of back pain in children are unusual and should always be seen as a red flag.
What can you do? Unload it to bare essentials. Throw out the bottled water. Look at the straps--the wider, the better. Center the load in the middle of the back. Select a well designed pack with padding for protection from sharp edges. Watch your child carry the pack to be sure they don't carry it on one shoulder, as an asymmetric load is injurious to the spine.
If you have questions, bring your child AND the loaded backpack to your local chiropractor. He or she can look at the pack and your child with a professional eye. Any complaint of back pain in a youngster should be assessed for scoliosis, pronation of the feet, congenital issues in the spine and pelvis, etc. They can help you from there.
Meanwhile, if you are a parent, you aren't carrying books at this point. You have different monkeys on your back.