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Carrying heavy backpacks can cause problems for kids

(Scarlett Lisjak)
Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:28 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -School is back in session and the excitement may be wearing off, and as the homework increases, so does the amount of stuff in a student’s backpack, and too much weight can cause back problems for kids.

Owner of Crosswait Chiropractic, Dr. Jonathan Crosswait says lugging around 20 pounds of books on your back is not just uncomfortable, it can be harmful, “the general rule of thumb is 10% of their body weight, so if that bag exceeds 10% of their body weight then it’s too heavy for these kids to be carrying.”

For a 70 pound child a backpack weighing more than 7 pounds is too heavy, Crosswait adds excessive pressure on a developing spine could lead to spinal degeneration or even arthritis down the road, “there has been a recent study using MRI where children that have too heavy of backpacks have increased spinal curvature as well as increased compression on their spinal disks .”

Crosswait says one of the things parents can do, is making sure the weight is evenly distributed, “so having a daughter that’s a fourth grader, kids have definitely complained that their backpacks are heavy and she made that comment a couple times herself. What we try to do is make sure that its properly fitting for her, then if it’s going to be over that 10% of her body weight we just have her carry things in her arms.”

More schools making the shift to virtual learnings tools can be a benefit when it comes to the spine, Crosswait adds, “I think teachers are definitely on top of it and trying to make sure that kids aren’t carrying things that are too heavy, as they get older they have books, but I know in Rapid City Area Schools now they’re going to everything on the computers so that helps lighten the load.”

Crosswait says another thing to take into consideration is all the winter gear kids carry around.

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