One of the issues that we have identified with the children getting back to school is Backpack Safety. That is one reason why we here at Oakville Chiropractic Centre , Dr Brian Huggins and Dr Tiffany Huggins along with Mayor Rob Burton are declaring September Oakville Backpack Safety Month. This coincides with several other organizations throughout North America as well as the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

“Many parents do not realize the negative ramifications of a young spine carrying an improper load.” stated Dr. Huggins. If a child carries too heavy a load then the stress transfers to the spine and joints.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission there are estimated to be 20,000 visits to emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and clinics as a result of backpack related injuries. The injuries from backpacks range from neck back and shoulder strains to contusions and even fractures from falls.

A study in Italy revealed that 60% of children experience back pain. That alone should be some form of a red flag and cause concern for parents.

Various research suggests that a child should carry no more than 10% of their body weight depending upon the strength and fitness of the child. In other words an 80 lbs child should carry a backpack of no more than 8 pounds.

Carrying weights greater than that, can cause stress on the joints of the spine and lead to issues in both the short and long term. The spine of course protects the nervous system that coordinates all of the functions in our body.

“In addition, carrying a backpack on one shoulder may be a fashion statement, but it could be particularly bothersome to the spine and can lead to an unnatural curvature.” stated Dr. Huggins

Selecting a backpack that fits your child is critical. A backpack should not extend beyond the lower back of a child. Try to ensure that the straps are cushioned and wide to displace the load. Adjust the straps to fit the child and lessen the load on the spine. Of there is a waist strap and or chest strap support encouraging your child to use it routinely.

Some indications that the backpack is ill fitting or too heavy would be leaning forward to manage the weight, numbness or tingling in the neck, arms or hands, straps leaving red marks on the shoulders or immediate discomfort or pain when the backpack is put on.

When packing the backpack try to get the heavier items closest to the spine. This will help lessen the load. Pack it Light Wear it Right is a mantra of the Chiropractic Profession.

If a child has to carry too much between home and school speak to the teachers to find a solution to heavy loads.

So to recap the points

  • Make sure the pack is the appropriate size
  • Look for wider padded straps
  • Use the straps on both shoulders
  • Adjust the straps so they fit properly
  • Use the waist and chest strap if available
  • Don’t load more than 10% of body weight
  • Place the heavier items closer to the spine

As a public service our office, offers workshops for parents and children to evaluate their backpack safety and create awareness. We offer workshops in house or arrangements can be made to come to your school.

In addition we are offering a no obligation evaluation for all school aged children.

Dr. Brian Huggins and Dr. Tiffany Huggins operate Oakville Chiropractic Centre located at 627 Lyons Lane in Oakville. Either Doctor is available for various workshops or corporate events. To arrange a consultation contact Chantelle at 905-845-2291, or email,


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