As children head back to school, they may be expanding their minds but there is a good chance they’re also damaging their bodies. Back pain, historically an adult affliction, is now becoming common among school-aged children and studies show a direct correlation between backpacks and back pain in children.
In a recent study by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, 37% of the children studied reported back pain, with 82% of these kids believing their backpack either caused or worsened their pain. Of the children reporting back pain, 34% limited their activity due to the pain. The study also found children with lockers reported less back pain.
Separate studies have also found that girls suffer back pain more often and more intense than boys, and the onset of pain often correlates just prior to the onset of puberty.
“Probably most disturbing about these findings is the fact that back pain in children and adolescents is very likely a precursor to low back pain as an adult,” said Anthony Carey, founder and CEO of Function First, a company that helps people eliminate back pain, joint pain and chronic pain through a form of exercise called corrective exercise. “It also concerns us that back pain is limiting activity in children. Children need structured exercise programs just like adults. We need to look at the relationship of back pain in kids with the increase in childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles,” added Carey.
The study findings identify two changes to address the problem: 1) increasing the availability of school lockers; and 2) lighter backpacks. Carey also points out that The American Physical Therapy Association, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Chiropractic Association provide backpack weight limit guidelines. Recommendations are based on the child’s weight and are as follows:
– A 60 lb. child can carry a maximum backpack weight of 5 lbs.
– 60-75 lbs. can carry 10 lbs.
– 100 lbs. can carry 15 lbs.
– 125 lbs. can carry 18 lbs.
– 150 lbs. can carry 20 lbs.
– 200 lbs. can carry 25 lbs.
Anthony Carey, M.A., CSCS, CES is the author of “The Pain-Free Program” and the founder and CEO of Function First, Inc. Function First provides a variety of corrective exercise products and services that provide pain relief for those with back pain, neck pain, joint pain and chronic pain. Carey, a continuing education provider for the American Council on Exercise, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine also trains health and fitness professionals in his methods of corrective exercise. For more information about Anthony Carey and Function First, please visit FunctionFirst