Backpacks and Back Pain

Backpacks are the tote of choice for most school-aged children with two books per class to lug around. In fact, it is reported that between 92% and 94% of schoolchildren carry backpacks. And it appears these contraptions are evolving somewhat with sturdier-looking designs, heavily padded straps and about a thousand small pockets for pencils, house keys and other knick-knacks. But even though the sturdiest backpacks can withstand the pressure, how are the kids taking it?

On average, children load their backpacks to between 10% and 22% of their own body weight. During a study conducted in 2005, researchers set out to quantify the pressure and pain incurred when backpacks are loaded so heavily. For the study, 10 children wore backpacks loaded to 0%, 10%, 20% or 30% of their body weight for 30 seconds to determine the amount of pressure under the backpack's shoulder straps. While wearing the backpacks, the children were also asked to report whether they felt any pain and, if so, the severity of that pain.

According to the results, pressure beneath the shoulder straps was "significantly increased" when the backpack was loaded at only 10% of the child's body weight - on the low end of the reported average. Increased pressure also was associated with an increase in pain, and interestingly the pressure was always greater on the right shoulder than the left shoulder. Over the long term, the researchers noted that uneven backpack loads could alter the curvature of a child's spine and produce back pain.
The authors of this study compiled their results and offered a few suggestions for parents of school-aged children and their parents:

  1. Backpacks should be positioned high on the back.
  2. Backpack straps should be worn over both shoulders.
  3. Weight in the backpacks should be minimized.
  4. Backpacks should have wide shoulder straps.

It is important to remember that 3 out of every 100 people have some degree of scoliosis - an abnormal curvature of the spine - that begins in childhood and has the potential to worsen over time. Having your child evaluated by a chiropractor is the best way to determine whether he or she has some degree of scoliosis. Chiropractic care can manage any problems related to scoliosis, and a lightened load on their back can have long-term benefits as well!

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Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota

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Testimonials

  • "Dear Dr. Zabawa,
    I want to thank you for being my #1 healthcare provider.
    I have been under chiropractic care for 40 years and of the many chiropractors I have been treated by,
    you and your precise atlas adjustment are the best.
    It really is gentle and effective. I've had migraines, scoliosis, herniated L4-L5, and sciatica -
    and in the 11 yrs of being under your care I have had no problems or re-occurrence of any
    of my former symptoms.
    You are the best and I thank you."
    Judy B.
  • "Hi, I'll always remember the wonderful things you've done for me at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.
    I thank Dr. Zabawa for getting me up and running!
    My last chiropractor said there was nothing else they could do for me, and I felt as if my life was over.
    (I couldn't even play video games without pain.)
    Now that I've been introduced to your atlas adjustments: I'm lifting weights again, working (making money),
    and yes - even playing video games. Wow!
    THANK YOU!!!!!"
    Lyle H.
  • "We've had 40 years of various types of chiropractic therapies (sometimes weekly),
    but have never felt truly aligned until now."
    Marsha & Alain M.
  • "I was diagnosed with scoliosis as a child, and through good habits & care have managed to avoid surgery.
    About 30 years ago my research into spinal maintenance led me to upper cervical chiropractic
    (specifically orthospinology) over general chiropractic.
    This is just phenomenal. When my atlas is adjusted and my spine is aligned, it is amazing how good I feel.
    It helps the nerves and muscles of the body function so well, and I believe it has been the key to slowing
    the spinal degeneration caused by my scoliosis.
    * And it's so non-invasive! *
    Now that I live in Sarasota, I am so glad to be under the care of Dr. Zabawa.
    It's no surprise that he came highly recommended. I have always been impressed with
    the professionalism and care I've received at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.
    It compares to anywhere in the country."
    Kyle Ann M.
  • "Very thorough. Quick recovery after a car wreck!"
    Nathaniel B.
  • "For 3 years I had been having headaches every day.
    I even went to a neurologist for my headaches, but he said they were a condition of menopause :(
    A friend suggested going to Dr. Z because of the unique procedure he uses and the great results.
    Dr. Z took care of me and within about 3 months my daily headaches were gone.
    What a relief!
    I don't think I've had one since :)"
    Allaesia M.
  • "I lived in pain with an undiagnosed broken back for 23 years since a horse & buggy accident as a teenager.
    When I injured my back again as an adult, the x-rays showed that I had fractured a vertebra back then,
    as well as this time.
    I received some help from going to regular chiropractors in recent years, but still lived in pain.
    I am so thankful that I found Dr. Zabawa.
    After 35 years and lots of pain, within a month or so
    I was PAIN FREE!
    It is amazing how such small adjustments to the atlas vertebra in my neck have made such
    a big difference to my life.
    To this day, I come in periodically to maintain my new found health.
    Praise and glory to God."
    Mary T.