Question: Every year my child comes home with a backpack that practically weighs more than I do. This can't possibly be good on her back. Do heavy backpacks like hers contribute to structural issues that may hinder learning?
Dr. Olejak: Dear Heavy Backpack,
There is no doubt that heavy items on a child’s back during the developmental years leads to changes in the spine. As a chiropractor, son of a chiropractor and chiropractic father of two young girls I can assure you there is a need for structural alignment. As to postural changes hindering learning, we know that there is a relationship between cognition and posture. We know this empirically because when we are emotionally down our posture reflects this with stooped shoulders and forward flexion of the head. It seems reasonable that the process works in both directions: visceral somatic and somatic visceral.
Studies that were compiled by Foreman & Croft and others, also found that postural changes from trauma were found to alter blood flow to the brain via changes in the sympathetic nervous system. Everything we know about functional MRI now tells us that without blood flow to certain areas there is less mental activity. This may be one reason why ginkgo has been found useful in supporting blood flow to the brain.
One area of the spine that is particularly affected is the mid-thoracic, which provides nerve supply to the adrenals at T8-9. With my children I’ve consistently checked that area and also made sure they had adrenal support. The ingredients in Loving Energy (organic solomon seal root, eleuthro root, reishi mushroom, licorice root, polygonatum root, and schizandra berry) directly support the gland and compliment the chiropractic care nicely.
What can you do to reduce stress on your child’s spine?:
- Instead of a backpack my kids use a roller bag. I travel a lot and thought to myself ‘what’s good for the airport can surely work in school’
- Take only what you need home and to school.
- Some schools offer resources online which eliminates the need for book lugging.
- Encourage your school to adopt the use of tablets. Many modern schools now teach from eVersions of textbooks and some tablet makers like Apple support textbook development on their machines.
No child is going to get out of childhood without scrapes, bumps, bruises and some damage to ligaments and tendons. It is a rite of growing up. The thing to do is be aware, observe and ask questions so you can intervene with the right treatment at the right time.
 Foreman, S & Croft A. The Acceleration/Decelleration Syndrome ISBN-10: 0683033158