The use of backpacks for the younger generation has some short term benefits. It leaves the hands free to text on the phone. While texting is more widely popular than wearing a backpack the use of backpacks has increased exponentially for students of all ages from elementary school through college.
They may often be carrying up to 25-40 pounds of books, laptops and other items so they don’t have to make frequent stops at their lockers during the day. You rarely hear any mention about what this convenient modern design is doing to the structure of the back.
When I was growing up posture was frequently discussed in school. Now it is not addressed at all, yet, wearing a backpack actually educates the body to stoop forward, creating potentially lifelong poor posture. In fact the weight and size of backpacks are doing more to create future back pain patients than any single activity after texting and sitting.
How might it affect my children?
How it affects a child will be different, particularly at different ages. It can certainly be said the children of elementary school age do not have the strength to keep the correct upright posture while carrying heavy loads. This puts the skeletal system under significant stress. Poorly distributed weight on the shoulders may pull a child backward. To compensate the child will likely bend forward at the hips, round the shoulders and extend the head upward, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally. This may result in the child developing shoulder, neck, and back pain. Carrying heavy backpacks can lead to a great rounding of the shoulders, strained muscles and even irritation to the joints in the spine and rib cage. Furthermore it can alter the mid and low back normal curves. This increased rounded upper back can lead to nerve irritation at the neck junction.
The problem of bad posture is severe and unique to this generation. Considering the consequences of backpacks, texting, laptops and computer games, it’s not a matter of if they will have neck and back problems, it’s more a matter of when. Mark my words, the number of patients receiving cervical surgeries in the next 10 to 15 years will be through the roof. And most of it will be due to bad posture from texting, laptop video games and wearing backpacks.
How do we fix this?
The first step is to acknowledge the obvious. Look at your own children. No, don’t tell them you want to check their posture but look at how they stand when talking to a friend, how they sit in front of the TV or computer. Remember the ear…when looking at someone who is standing, the ear should be directly in line with the shoulders vertically.
If what I am saying rings a bell and you are asking what can I do? …Well there are many solutions and most are simple, providing your child is willing to cooperate. In my book, “HOPE AND HELP FOR BACK PAIN” three chapters deals with posture alone, Chapter 11 with sitting (hazardous to your health) Chapter 12 with Texting (growing pains in a tech world) Chapter 13 with backpacks (backpacks lead to back troubles).
How are we making a difference?
In an effort to help those of you concerned about your child’s posture I am offering, as a public service, a FREE copy of my book, “HOPE AND HELP FOR BACK PAIN” This public service will be offered now through the month of February. No appointments needed. Just walk in and ask for a copy. It’s that simple. Thanks for your time and have a blessed day.