Backpacks’ Attack On Backs.
Watch children in any schoolyard struggle to walk while bent sideways under the weight of an overloaded backpack on one shoulder. You will quickly realize the potential danger of this commonplace item. How exactly does carrying a backpack affect the spine? Common sense tells us that a load distributed improperly or unevenly, day after day, indeed causes stress to a growing spinal column. The old adage “As the twig bends, so grows the tree” comes to mind. There is a growing concern about the improper use of backpacks and the relatively scarce amount of instructional and preventative information available to young people. It is not the backpack’s fault that kids have not been given the guidelines.
Check the Numbers.
In the last decade, there has been an alarming rise in emergency room visits due to improperly worn backpacks among children 18 years old or younger. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates over 7000 emergency room visits each year result from injuries related to book bags. The CPSC also reports that backpack-related injuries are up 300% since 1996.
Do this “heavy” math: 12 pounds in an average child’s backpack times 10 lifts per day equals 120 pounds lifted per day. This 120 pounds per day times 180 days per school year equals 21,600 pounds lifted in one school year. That is nearly 11 tons, or the equivalent of six full size automobiles.
Getting Out of Line.
If “posture is the window to the spine,” then the picture we see through that window shows that we need to be more aware of our spinal health. Kids spend countless hours contorting themselves — improperly wearing their backpacks, slouching at computers, hovering over handheld computer games, and even sprawling in front of the television.
By educating children in proper ‘body mechanics’ and healthy posture, we can help them grow up with less pain, reduce the odds of future disability, and help this future workforce decrease on-the-job injuries, many adults with chronic spinal conditions can trace their problems to years of bad posture habits and poor body mechanics formed in early childhood. Hauling a heavy backpack over one shoulder everyday may cause serious postural misalignments. These postural imbalances often trigger a condition called vertebral subluxation. Vertebral subluxations are dysfunctional areas in the spine where movement is restricted or bones (vertebrae) are out of alignment. This disorder predisposes patients to a number of ailments, such as neck and back pain, headaches, and arthritis.
In addition, a recent scientific experiment found that carrying a backpack alters the mobility of spinal bones and can lead to restricted movement—a risk factor for pain. Yet another study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the effect of backpacks on the disc of the spine, the fluid-filled “pillows” between spinal bones. According to the report, backpacks alter the fluid content of these discs—a risk factor for disc herniation (“slipped” disc) and arthritis . . .
Be sure to check back for Next week’s Article: Backpacks May Spawn Falls . . . or keep yourself up to date with what is going on at Belvidere Chiropractic Center by simply subscribing to Belvidere Chiropractic’s RSS Feed or to our Email Updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or LinkedIN.
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