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Posted on 08-24-2015

With the beginning of a new school year many of us will soon be making shopping trip for new backpacks and school supplies. This is a great time for us to consider the potential posture and pain problems that can come from wearing backpacks that fit improperly, are too heavy, or are simply worn incorrectly.
Research studies have shown that forward-head posture, rounded shoulders, and gait imbalance increase when students wear backpacks that are more than 15 percent of their body weight. These postural deviations tend to be greater in children and pre-adolescents.  Improper backpack use can also lead to the development of bad postural habits during childhood that can continue for a lifetime. For all of these reasons, it's important to select a backpack carefully and to teach your child to wear it properly.
The following tips are recommended for safe backpack use:

1- Wear both straps. This better distributes the weight of the backpack and promotes more symmetrical alignment.
2- Wear the backpack over the midback. The muscles of the midback are strongest and best able to support a heavy load. Never let a pack extend below the lower back, regardless of what fashion dictates!
3- Lighten the load. Keep the back pack at 10 to 15 percent or less of your child's body weight. Only those items required for the day should be included in the pack.
3- Size. The larger a backpack is, the greater the potential for filling it up! And heavy backpacks cause muscle fatigue and soreness. Choose a size that is adequate for the amount of books-but no larger.
4- Padded back and straps. This will reduce pressure on the back and shoulders and improve comfort.
5- Multiple compartments. These are helpful in distributing the load evenly throughout the backpack.
6- Extra hip and chest straps. These straps can distribute the weight to the trunk and hips.

There are a variety of signs that your child's backpack may be too heavy or is being used incorrectly. These signs include red marks across the shoulders, postural changes, difficulty putting on and taking off the backpack, tingling in arms and hands, or general aches and pains in the back, neck, or shoulders. Check in with your child to see if the backpack is causing pain. We are happy to help get them in top form. Stop by our clinic if you have questions!
Our doctors have the ability to analyze your posture to determine what is at the root of the problem. Some of the things chiropractors will look for include:

Height variance across your shoulders.
A forward tilt in the pelvis.
Alignment in your knees.
Stance variations like turning one or both feet outward.
Changes in your normal gait.
An increase in your spinal curvature.

Once the underlying causes of your posture issues are determined, a chiropractor can create a treatment program and help you correct the problem. Along with spinal adjustments, you may be given instruction on how to sit properly, stand and walk properly and work properly as it relates to posture. Your chiropractic treatment will help, but it is only half the battle. You will also need to be more conscious of your posture in your daily activities and correct the bad habits you've created over the years. It 's a challenging task, but one you can master with regular practice.

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