If you wonder why more kids than ever before are complaining about back and neck pain — and you should be — a very likely reason is that they’re weighed down by backpacks crammed with everything from textbooks to laptops to musical instruments.

Consider this: “The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission calculated that carrying a 12-pound backpack to and from school and lifting it 10 times a day for an entire school year puts a cumulative load on youngsters’ bodies of 21,600 pounds,” The New York Times reported, “or the equivalent of six mid-sized cars.”

No wonder experts warn that kids are putting themselves at risk of even more serious conditions like stress fractures in the back, inflammation of growth cartilage and nerve damage in the neck and shoulders.

“Over time, the heavy weight of a backpack can cause an unnatural alignment of the spine as students are forced to offset the pressure by arching the back or bending forward at the hips,” said Sherry McAllister, DC, executive vice president of the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, adding that students who are already prone to slouching may experience further pain from sitting at a desk for prolonged periods.

Doctors of chiropractic, who have a minimum seven years of higher learning, specialize in providing drug-free, hands-on care that helps to naturally align and strengthen the spine. And since they also routinely advise on proper body positioning — especially important to ensure while children are still growing — the foundation knows from whence it speaks on these backpack-related tips:

* Limit packs to no more than 10 percent of a kid’s weight.

* Packs with padded straps and multiple compartments help distribute weight.

* Explore options that allow your child to opt into a book-free program. Many school districts are beginning to see the benefit of loaner tablet programs both from a cost and health perspective. Speak up and let your district know your children deserve this option.

When it comes to helping your children stay healthy, make sure to include chiropractic checkups. The stressors they experience in school are enough without the added stress of heavy backpacks. For more information on how chiropractic care can benefit your children, feel free to contact Lane Chiropractic today.