In recent years our teachers have unintentionally caused our children to require overloaded. Backpacks that are far too heavy for developing muscles, joints and bones. As a result, this issue has received a lot of attention from parents, educators, nurses, doctors and the media.
It is well documented that fractures and bone bruises are the most serious of injuries and are typical of sports related trauma. However, a strain/sprain injury to an involved joint and in this case, the spine can be one of the most debilitating long term injuries due to the chronicity of the injury and a school year that goes from September through June of the following year.
A strain injury is an over-stretching of the musculo-ligamentous attachments of the spine or a joint. In the spine there are 24 moving spinal vertebrae that work in unison to provide support, structure and mobility. When their attachments are over-stretched, the injury can be very complex and will become far reaching. An injury of this nature that is not permitted to heal, will be compounded throughout the school year and will invariably result in a sprain injury.
A sprain injury differs from a strain injury that it is not only an overstretching of the musculo-ligamentous attachments of the spine or joints, it involves micro-tearing of those structures. The problem with sprains and the related micro-tears of supportive musculature is that the normal tissue is now replaced with scar tissue which is less elastic and becomes fibrotic. This will result in spinal distortion functional issues of the spine and/or related joints if not addressed or corrected.
Warning signs that a back pack is too heavy:
- Difficulty when putting on or taking off a back pack.
- Pain while wearing a back pack.
- Tingling or numbness in the arms or legs.
- Any back pack that forces a child’s posture forward by 10 degrees or more.
- Red strap marks of the shoulders caused by the back pack.
- A change in side to side posture when wearing a back pack viewed back to front.
- Any back pack that is greater than 10-15% of the child’s body weight.
Disadvantages of wheeled back packs:
- A wheeled back pack tends to be heavier as they hold up to 75% more weight.
- They still have to be lifted in an out of a vehicle (bus or car).
- They have to be lifted when executing stairs.
- They can be cumbersome and difficult in a crowded hallway.
- They put additional strains on shoulders, elbows and wrists.
- They cost more to purchase.
Conditions for the young developing spine are now set up for premature aging. These micro-traumas or injuries come from the lack of a proper supportive back pack. Buy a back pack with a waist belt that secures the pack so it doesn’t swing. Get your child and their back pack evaluated at our office as back pain that may limit a child’s activities, course of study as well as predispose them to back injuries later in life.