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Are your children’s backpacks weighing them down?

In most homes, back to school means school shopping and the return of homework. But it also means going back to the inevitable weight the school year brings, carried every day by your child. After spending all summer without the literal weight on their backs, students of all ages have to adjust to the new school year, new assignments and ever-increasing loads.

“As a chiropractor, I unfortunately see children of all ages coming to me with real pain from their backpacks,” said Dr. Mark Yezak of Houston Spine and Rehabilitation Centers in The Woodlands. “Wearing an improperly fitting backpack doesn’t sound so bad by itself, but the poorly distributed weight can lead to neck strain and back pain. We want children to learn healthy habits now to avoid long-term pain issues down the road.”

By following these simple tips, you can help your kids have a pain-free school year:

  1. Start with the right size backpack. “This may seem like a no-brainer, but too often kids are wearing backpacks designed for someone much larger than them,” said Dr. Yezak. “Make sure your child’s backpack isn’t, for example, bouncing uncontrollably when they’re running for the bus. Ideally, the backpack should fit snug against your child’s upper back and not drop below their waistline.”
  2. Check the materials. Be sure your child’s backpack has two padded straps and is made from lightweight materials. “One-shoulder bags are common culprits for muscle spasms and added strain on the neck, leading to back pain,” said Dr. Yezak. Also, skip the leather and other heavier materials and stick with canvas to cut down on unnecessary weight.
  3. Think outside the backpack. While the traditional backpack is the usual option for back to school, the weight of books and multiple electronic devices these days can far outweigh book bags of school years past. “Consider a backpack with wheels, which have surged in popularity in recent years due to their practicality and trendiness,” said Dr. Yezak. For younger children, there are many characters and styles to choose from, and for the older set, many popular designers have several versions of wheeled bags with options for multiple electronics and accessories.
  4. Re-evaluate often during the school year. “Thinking about backpacks doesn’t stop at the first day of school,” said Dr. Yezak. If your child ends up with more books and binders than you anticipated, think about buying a sturdier backpack to accommodate the load. “Look for a backpack with lumbar support and waist straps to lighten the burden on your child’s back. Also make sure your child is checking contents at least weekly to empty out unnecessary items, such as supplies, books, sweaters, and other things that are just weighing them down.”
  5. See an expert to ensure the right fit (for free!). Join Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Centers this Saturday, August 28, from 10 a.m. to noon at its location in The Woodlands at 3103 College Park Drive. “We are committed to ensuring your children are off to a great start,” said Dr. Yezak. “Bring your child’s backpack for a professional evaluation to ensure they are pain-free and on their way to a successful school year.”

 In 1996, Dr. Mark Yezak established Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Centers to pioneer a multidisciplinary clinic specializing in treatment for acute and chronic pain. Dr. Yezak is one of “Houston’s Top Docs” and is consistently ranked among the Top 10 chiropractors in the Houston area. In addition to a Houston and Sugar Land location, a third Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Center is located at 3101 College Park Drive in The Woodlands, Texas. Please call 281-882-3267 for more information about Houston Spine and Rehabilitation Centers or to book an appointment with Dr. Yezak.

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