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Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Backpack Safety for Back to School

Sep 28, 2011 12:55PM

School is in, and for most children, that means a daily chore of carrying to and from school a heavy backpack filled with textbooks, papers and water bottles. According to two recent reports in the medical journal Spine, 74.4 percent of 1,122 backpack users studied were found to suffer from back pain, as indicated by significantly poorer general health, more limited physical functioning and more bodily pain. The studies established that backpack loads were responsible for a significant amount of back pain in children, at least partly due to changes in lumbar disc height or curvature.

Dillsburg chiropractic doctor Christian Curran, of Cornerstone Chiropractic Family Wellness Center, offers the following tips for healthier spines during the school year:

  • Make sure the child’s backpack fits properly relative to the size of the child. Representatives in quality stores can advise on proper fit.
  • Encourage the child to use both straps. While it may be cooler to use one strap, this can put extra stress on one side of the body, especially when the pack is picked up and slung over a shoulder repetitively. Padded shoulder straps are helpful.
  • Weigh the backpack. The total weight should be no more than 10 to 15 percent of the child’s weight. If it is more, be creative in ways to lighten your child’s daily load, such as requesting a second set of books to use at home (a note from your child’s family chiropractor or pediatrician may help with this), or finding the books in an digital format.
  • Pack the heaviest items closest to the child’s back. This will help to distribute the weight most effectively.

Curran says one of the best things parents can do to ensure students maintain a healthy, happy spine is seek a family chiropractor.

Location: 11 N. US Hwy. 15, Ste. 6, Dillsburg 17019. For more information, call 717-432-4336 or visit

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