The sad close of Summer—the shortest of the seasons (to kids, at least)—brings a new wave of excitement. Each new school year calls for the magical shopping trip to buy school supplies, and on especially magical years, we are able to justify the purchase of a new backpack. The purchase of a new backpack is monumental in importance, as it is to the kids an extension of themselves and an expression of their individuality. This is, of course, why every girl in my daughter’s class had to have a sequined unicorn horn sticking out the top of their backpack. My son’s backpack just had to be covered in boogery eyeballs.
I love seeing them being so expressive and have their own individual ideas and creative expression. But I cringe when I see them sling their overstuffed and completely non-ergonomic pack over their shoulders and march off, head and neck and shoulders craning forward to balance the weight they just added to their body.
In our practice we are seeing an increasing number of younger patients with severely dysfunctional cervical curves. This is not just us. It’s happening nationwide. In fact, it has been documented that the current generation of our youth has begun to develop anatomical adaptations (they are growing horns—well, not really horns) due to the huge increase in poor cervical posture from cell phone use. These postural problems are also due to behavioral changes, including sedentary lifestyle and, I would add, the ever-increasing weight of their backpacks.
With regard to backpacks, recent research has demonstrated that a person’s posture changes noticeably when carrying a heavy backpack that lacks a supportive design. Their shoulders assume a forward rounded shape, their head and neck stretches out forward, and their thoracic and lumbar spines both exhibit a loss in curvature. Just watch your kids as they lug their backpacks and you’ll see it. I have serious concerns when I think of how my young children are being subjected to these forces while they are still growing and developing.
As for the cell phones, tablets, and sedentary lifestyle factors, that is an entire other discussion. But I do have some recommendations for you here regarding backpack selection and use:
I’ll be honest, finding a pack that is great for school books, has the proper fit ergonomics features, AND looks awesome to your kid is going to be no small feat. But here are a few options I found:
Many of you as patients have been admonished by your chiropractor and/or chiro-wise friends for self-adjusting (ie “popping your own back”). While there is no denying that doing so can provide short-term relief, it’s not a wise long-term solution. Here’s why.
Have you ever had a sharp stabbing pain with each breath? An even deeper breath makes the pain significantly worse. Some people describe this feeling as being just as bad as having a heart attack, while others feel an intense and constant dull ache that will not go away behind their shoulder blade. It's hard to explain what it feels like unless someone has experienced it for themselves because after they've been adjusted by the chiropractor, if they are skilled at mobilizing ribs, then there should be significant relief from any further rib misalignment issues in no time flat!
Natalies story of how she was terrified to visit a chiropractor, until she realized the benefits and relief it provided for her chronic back pain.
This is the most common response I hear any time I ask to see a patient’s blood work. They have been told that everything is normal, yet they still feel awful. How could this be the case? This post is specifically about why medical and functional blood analysis is different and absolutely needs to be understood. Medicine evaluates "normal"/non-pathological blood values. Archetype uses "optimal" blood values which are smaller in a acceptable range but are compared other lab values to determine the cause of your issue..