Kids face an increasing number of demands in school, and with the increased workload comes more books. Unfortunately, the increased weight in your child's backpack could be causing serious health problems, both immediate and long-term. Kids shouldn't carry a backpack that weighs more than fifteen percent of their body weight. If they do, it can lead to muscle pain, posture problems and other concerns. In some cases, it may require the intervention of a physician. Here are a few key warning signs that you shouldn't overlook when it comes to your child's back and muscles.
Carrying a backpack with the straps over the shoulders can pull down on the top of the shoulders. When the backpack is too heavy, it can actually cause strain on the shoulder joints and the muscles along the top of the shoulder and the neck. If your child is complaining of an ache in his or her neck or persistent headaches, this may be to blame.
Lower Back Discomfort
When carrying a backpack that's too heavy, kids will often lean forward slightly in an effort to compensate for that added weight. This can put strain on the lower back muscles. Over time, this strain can cause those muscles to tighten and cramp. If your child is suffering with this type of problem, he or she is likely to complain of lower back aches and cramps.
Another effect of the altered posture is hip strain. When your kids lean forward, it shifts the position of the hips from directly below the shoulders. This can cause the hips to have to work harder to support your child's upper body, which can cause significant pain and discomfort.
Walking with too much weight on the back can cause your child to alter his or her gait. This often leads to unnecessary strain on the knees, because it shifts the body's natural support of the weight and puts extra pressure on the knees. If your child's knees are sore or you notice that he or she is favoring a knee when walking, this may be a warning sign of bigger problems.
Heavy backpacks are more than just a minor worry. If your child is complaining about any of these problems, you can talk with your family physician about how to compensate for the weight. It may mean having your child alter what books come home each day or possibly talking to the school about electronic copies of books in order to reduce backpack weight. Your child's physician, including the specialists at Choice Medical Group, can also recommend some stretches and other physical therapy tips to help strengthen the muscles and improve his or her posture.