The Healthy Way to Wear a Backpack

It’s back to school time for all the young scholars and with it comes the daily ritual of lugging school supplies around in a backpack. You may not realize it but ill fitting backpacks can put a significant amount of stress on your child’s body.
The long-term stress of wearing a poorly designed and/or excessively heavy backpack can lead to a back aches, neck stiffness, burning shoulders, headaches, tingling in the arms/hands, fatigued muscles and a stooped posture. These aches and pains can be a major distraction to your child’s focus in the school room, hamper their enjoyment of everyday childhood activities and increase the likelihood of future back problems later in life.

Loading a Backpack

  • Your child’s backpack should not exceed 15% of their body weight.
  • back pack2Load the heaviest items closest to your child’s back. Pack the bumpy or sharp edged items furthest away from the back. Arrange the school gear so it won’t shift and slide as they walk.
  • Many parents are shocked to discover just how heavy their child’s backpack truly is. To calculate how much the pack weighs have your child stand on a weigh scale with and without the pack on and subtract the difference.
  • On heavy backpack load days have your child hand carry a heavy book or item.
  • Pack up the bag on a table or ledge that is waist high as opposed to leaning forward over a pack on the floor.

Wearing the Backpack

  • Always use the two straps to spread out the weight evenly. Carrying a heavy load with one strap can lead to unwanted curvatures and abnormali
  • ties in the developing spine and musculature.
  • Make sure the straps are well padded (2 inches wide) to protect the blood vessels and nerves in the neck and shoulder region. Prolonged pressure in these areas can lead to pain and tingling in the neck, arms and hands.
  • Adjust the straps so that pack fits snugly against your child’s back. You should be able to slide one hand between the pack and your child’s back. Loose packs can pull your child back causing muscle strains.
  • The back of the pack should never rest more than 4 inches below the waist line.
  • Wearing a waist strap can take as much as 50 – 70% of the weight off the shoulders and spine helping to distribute the weight more evenly.
  • Teach your child to put on their backpack properly. Place the pack on a table and do up both straps before moving as opposed to twisting and reaching back or swinging the pack around the shoulder.Backpack21

It is important to be aware of your child’s daily burden because it could be detracting from their school experience. If they complain of back pain, headaches, numbness or weakness in their arms seek help to ease their discomfort and prevent future problems.


Chiropractic Care… Safe and Cost Effective

“Ever since I was in my early teens, I’ve had muscle and joint problems that would come and go but never put me down where I couldn’t function. I was very active and played basketball, tennis, and ran in track but over the last 10 years I’ve avoided a lot of activity due to my problems. Now, after having a couple of children and gaining some weight, I notice more frequent and intense back problems and I’m getting quite concerned over the changes that have been taking place and afraid to do things. I talked about this with my family and friends and some have recommended chiropractic, some recommend physical therapy, others suggest medication and one even suggested shots! Quite frankly, I’m totally confused as to what to do!”

This scenario may sound familiar to many people.

lower-back-pain-s1-factsThe choice of health care provision is a personal one, often influenced by those around you – family, friends, teachers, and more!

It seems like everyone is an “expert” with different opinions and their advice, often conflicting, can lead to confusion about what is best for you.

There are many ways to approach back trouble, regardless of the diagnosis or condition.

First, all health care providers are biased in that they naturally focus on their specialty. If you choose to consult with a surgeon, s/he will look at your condition from a surgical perspective. Various surgical options may be discussed, tests are usually recommended and the process begins.

When consulting with a family physician, the typical approach is pharmaceutical or drugs such as anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, Nuprin, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Aleve, Tylenol, etc.), heat or ice, activity modifications (possibly rest or mild/moderate activity), and possibly referral for chiropractic or physical therapy.

In reviewing the various guidelines, it is recommended to start with the least invasive, safest, most cost effective approaches first.

Unless “red flags” like cancer, fracture, infection or progressive severe neurological losses are present, surgery is not a logical initial approach.

Chiropractic has been recommended as a first or initial choice as it has been found to be safe, highly satisfying, non-invasive, and cost effective.

The typical approach includes a thorough history, an examination that includes an analysis of posture, motion, function and includes the whole body.

For example, if one leg is short, the pelvis will tilt and spine is often crooked. That needs to be corrected for both long and short term results.

If the feet pronate and the arches are flat, the effects on gait/walking on the ankle, knee, hip and back can lead to trouble or perpetuate current problems.

Deconditioning or, being out of shape is an important aspect included in the chiropractic management process.

If these methods fail to bring about satisfying results, referral for more invasive approaches will be considered.

“Bad weather plus your child’s back pack… equal neck, back or shoulder pains in our little ones!”

How big of a problem is Back Pack pain in our little ones? Well, get this. Your child’s backpack might be causing harm. The potential dangers of heavy backpacks used by children are greater than most parents realize.

According to national guidelines, students should carry backpacks that weigh… no More than 10-15% of their body weight. Yet did you know that…

“55% of students are carrying backpacks that weigh much more than the recommended weight?” (Simmons College, April, 2001)

Why is this such an “invisible” health concern? Hey, I realize we’re starting to sound like overprotective parents here, but consider this. Over the years the average weight associated with a children’s backpack has increased 120% since the 1970’s! Today in addition to school books, kids are also cramming their karate outfits in their backpacks… along with iPods, Game Boys, extra gym clothes for their after school sports leagues, baseball gloves, lunch pails, etc. Children today are “overscheduled” and thus carry much more “weight” into their backpacks to accommodate their extra-busy lifestyles.

Carrying too much weight really can cause permanent damage to a child’s back and spine. This is a serious health concern, that I can assure you. As a chiropractor, I am seeing more and more children complaining about back pain and it is often because of the weight they’re carrying on their backs to and from school every day.

A survey conducted by AIRPACKS in 2000 revealed that 66% of school nurses reported seeing students with pain or injury caused by backpacks. Here are a few quick tips:

1. Wear backpack straps on both shoulders, not just one

2. Put heavier books closest to the back, which can reduce the awkward strain

3. Teach your child to bend at the knees while lifting backpacks

4. Try to reduce the load! Only carry what is necessary each day.

If you would like to have your child examined or have concerns about their health, please give me a call. We’re here to help!

Interested in learning more how chiropractic can help your little ones? Call (309) 692-6800 today, because last year millions discovered chiropractic!


Peak foliage has passed, and now autumn’s splendor is mostly on the ground. Front yard, back yard, side yard… So weekend warriors now turn to the annual chores of raking, bagging, blowing, and mulching the leaves. While raking is an excellent, moderate form of exercise, more than 28,000 people are medically treated each year for back, neck, and should injuries directly related to disposing of leaves! (Source; Consumer Product Safety Commission Report).
To avoid injuries to your back, neck, shoulders and wrists while you’re cleaning up leaves, here are some tips:
1. Choose the Right Size Rake: Yes, those “super size” rakes might lull you into thinking they will cut the time required in half, but they rarely do and actually increase the potential for injury. Bottom line; choose a rake that is light and easy to use for you size/strength. And if it’s cold and damp, stretch more and make sure you’re warmly dressed. Cold makes muscles and tendons tighten up and become good candidates for injury.
2. Stretch- Before and After: Do a little “warming up” before you start tossing leaves around. A walk around the yard to loosen up the legs, and gently rotate your back and neck to let them know they’ll be getting a workout soon. Windmill your shoulders to loosen them up. 5-10 Minutes of stretching before and after you rake will work wonders.
3. Switch Hands: Most people keep their hands in the same position on the rake. Over an hour or tow of raking, this puts ‘repetitive stress” on only one side of back/ neck/shoulders. Simply switch the position of your hands, and alternate hands frequently, and you’ll fee better when the leaves are done!
4. Use Your Legs, Not Your Back: Of course you know to bend and lift with your legs (not your back), but when raking leaves it’s also important not to reach too far with the rake and extend your back (and possibly hurt it). Stay in a normal, upright position and use shorter raking strokes instead of long, reaching strokes. You’ll immediately notice that you’ll be moving your legs a bit more to get to the leaves, but that’s fine (they’re stronger than your arms, anyway!)
5. Hand Blowers: The natural tendency when you use a hand blower is to bend slightly forward from the waist to get the right angle to blow the leaves. While it might be fine for you leaves; it’s a terrible positioning for your lower back. Stay upright and avoid the tendency to bend! Eye and protection should be used, as well.
While leaf raking is a bit of a chore, it’s often done in spectacular fall weather conditions which make it easy and enjoyable to be outside. Take your time (the leaves aren’t going anywhere fast), and don’t try to load up those tarps with all of the leaves at one time! Dragging the tarps around (particularly by yourself) is a common cause of back pain.
So, enjoy this last big of the fall season, and one final observation. Everyone knows they’re supposed to lift leaf bags (and leaves into the leaf bag) by bending their knees and using their legs instead of their backs. Just take a look around your block and see if anyone is actually following this eminently practical and sound advice! And then make your own decision!

Consumer Reports Ranks Chiropractic #1

Consumer Reports: Going to the Chiropractor #1

Back Pain is one of the number 1 reasons someone goes to the doctor. Many reports have shown chiropractic to be the most successful and safest treatment for back pain. It is even better to prevent the back pain before it starts.

We’re here to help… just give us a call at (309) 692-6800 and we’ll take it from there!!

Since I’ve been coming to your office, I’ve been feeling better. But how exactly does chiropractic work to reduce/stop back pain?

I get a lot of patients who were in chronic pain and told by their primary care physician that they really had no other option other than surgery. In many cases, we have been able to get these patients fully recovered and out of pain, without needles, drugs, or surgery. Needless to say, they’re the ones very excited about chiropractic! But often because we get so busy, a patient might be feeling great… but might not really understand why chiropractic is working for them. Thus this article!   People think chiropractic is new. But it’s not. Records show that spinal manipulation can be traced back to the time of Hippocrates. Studies show that 80% of the American population will suffer back pain at some point. So this is a big problem and chiropractic offers a solution that has been around for thousands of years. In recent years the medical community has embraced chiropractic because it offers treatment without the use of drugs or surgery. In treating low back slipped discs, most experts agree that conservative care should be tried before surgery is considered. That’s what chiropractic offers. It has a long history of effectively stopping back, neck, and shoulder pain yet doesn’t require a trip to the hospital or recovery time.

Why does chiropractic work? Chiropractic eliminates something called a Subluxation. What is a Subluxation? A subluxation is the term we use to describe what happens when a vertebrae goes out of its normal position. What happens when you have a spinal subluxation? Three negative things can and do occur:  1. Nerve flow drops! Did you know that only 40 millimeters of pressure on the nerve for only 5 minutes causes a 60% reduction in nerve flow? That is quite a lot. Especially when you consider that ideally you want to be at 100% yet you’re less than half of that! 2. Ever hear of a condition called arthritis? When a subluxation exists there could eventually be an arthritic change that develops around the area where the vertebrae is out of position. 3. Permanent damage can occur. We call this a degenerative change. When a nerve dies, it is dead forever. It can’t be fixed. Thus, the aim of chiropractic is to reduce and get rid of these subluxations so these things don’t occur!

If you or someone you know has back pain (and your pain has lasted for more than 2 weeks), please seek a professional. We’re here to help. If you have questions, please call!

What Can Busy Mothers Do to Avoid Back Problems from Reoccurring Even When They’re Doing a Hundred Things at Once?

Last month we talked about the effects of poor posture – and we had many requests from our working mom’s who wanted to know some tips to getting through their day with good posture even when you have three kids pulling at your leg, you’re talking on the phone AND trying to make dinner… all at the same time! Well I’m always up for a good challenge. There’s no denying that today’s Mom is more akin to a Super Hero in the sheer number of demands on her time. So I decided to compile a list of immediately useful health tips that EVERY busy mother could use, that would improve their posture and reduce the chances of relapsing their back or neck injury:* (*source: ACA, Posture Pitfalls of Mom’s article)

6 healthy back tips for Mom’s!


  1. The very first thing you should do upon waking is to stretch! Stand up and stretch your arms above your head. Do the “hug your best friend.” Wrap your arms around your body, and turn as far as you can to the left, then to the right.
  2. Focus on Posture! Even performing everyday tasks like applying makeup, remember your posture. Do not hunch over the sink – stand up straight.
  3. Use the Legs to Lift your Child! Don’t bend from the waist when lifting your child. Squat with your back straight. Keep the child close to you and use your arms and legs to lift.
  4. Don’t Cradle the Phone! Either hold the phone or use speaker phone. Cradling the phone can cause beck, shoulder and back pain.
  5. Warning – Crossing Your Legs! Do not consistently cross the same knee over the other. This habit can eventually cause misalignment of the spine.
  6. Bed Time – for You! It is important to get a good night’s rest.


   And the other important tip… is a life of wellness which starts with chiropractic care and a focus on a healthy lifestyle. If you’d like to talk to me about chiropractic and YOUR posture related symptoms, or pain that has shown up again due to an active lifestyle, please just ask or call…(309) 692-6800, we’re here to help!