Back to school edition of Dr. Yoder’s blog

Exams.  Pop quizzes.  Homework…homework….homework.  School is starting again and most students will tell you it’s a pain in the neck!

But if your student is actually complaining of a pain in his/her neck or back, your Indianapolis chiropractor will tell you it could be possibly due to their backpack.  Overloaded or poorly-positioned backpacks can be the cause of many neck and back issues.

If you have ever experienced back or neck pain, you know how uncomfortable it can be.  Pain is often caused by pressure on the disks of the vertebrae.  These disks are responsible for spacing out the vertebrae and holding the vertebrae in place and acting as shock absorbers.  As you get older, these disks can wear down or degenerate causing pain and nerve damage.  Putting added pressure like that from a heavy backpack can cause these disks to wear down even faster.

So what should a student do?  We know you “need” everything in your backpack from your math book to your cell phone.  But there are a few simple rules you can follow to ensure that you are using your backpack properly and not paying a painful price that may surface in the years to come.

The following rules are listed in 2010 Today magazine…..

1.  CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZED BACKPACK.  Yes, believe it or not, backpacks do come in sizes.  Make sure to buy a backpack that is appropriate for your body size.  A general rule of thumb is that when the shoulder straps are adjusted so that they are snug, the bottom of the backpack should be about 2 inches above your waist.

2.  LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD.  Your filled backpack should weigh no more that 15% of your body weight.  Multiply your weight by .15 to get the maximum weight you should carry.  To lighten the load, remove all non-essentials.  Even a hairbrush can add extra weight.  If your bag is too heavy, remove a textbook and carry it in your arms.

3.  LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS.  To lift and put on your backpack properly, face the backpack, bend at your knees-not your waist-then lift with your legs and apply one shoulder strap and then the other.

4.  POSITION YOUR BACKPACK PROPERLY.  Wearing your backpack on only one shoulder can cause muscle strain and imbalance.  Wear both shoulder straps and adjust them so they are comfortably snug.  If the backpack has a waist strap, use it.  This will distribute the weight more evenly.  And maintain good posture while wearing your backpack.

5.  SET A TIME LIMIT.  Try to wear your backpack for 30 minutes or less if possible.  If this is not an option, carry the lightest load possible and follow all 5 rules.

We know your student’s backpack is a necessary tool for back to school.  And a backpack must be “cool” and a “fashion statement” for most students.  However, encourage your son or daughter to think smart when choosing the perfect backpack.

And one final tip….make an appointment to visit Meridian Chiropractic for a check-up before heading off to school for the year.