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Heavy Academic Load

It used to be that a carrying a heavy academic load meant a series of difficult classes. But these days, if your child is like many, he or she is carrying a heavy load of books back and forth from school.

Hauling a heavy backpack over one shoulder can worsen pre-existing postural deformities or spinal misalignments. Common sense tells us that a heavy load, unevenly distributed, day after day, can stress a still-growing spine. Consider the old adage “As the twig bends, so grows the tree.”

Compounding these postural distortions is research indicating heavy backpacks (25% of a child’s body weight or more) impair balance and increase slips and falls. In contrast, students who carried packs weighing 15% or less of their body weight were better able to maintain their balance.

If your son or daughter find themselves lugging books back and forth from school, consider these safety suggestions:

  • Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized. Special child-sized versions are lighter and have shorter back lengths and widths that reduce shifting.
  • Look for padded shoulder straps to avoid nerve pressure around the armpits and shoulders. Select backpacks with [stabilizing] waist straps. (Make sure they’re used!)
  • The maximum weight of loaded backpacks should not exceed 15% of the child’s body weight. If the pack forces the child to lean forward, it’s too heavy.
  • Avoid loading unnecessary items and balance the contents to prevent your child from assuming an unnatural, compensating posture.
  • Use both shoulder straps. Carrying the backpack on one shoulder may look “cool” but can lead to spinal imbalance.
  • Get regular chiropractic checkups to detect and reduce spinal problems in children. Help avoid the often difficult-to-correct problems we see in adults.

Related posts:

  1. Heavy Metal
  2. Forward Head Posture and Neck Pain
  3. Curves Ahead!

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