October 2012 Clinic News

Is your child’s backpack making the grade?

Carrying a backpack to and from school may seem harmless, but it can cause neck pain, back pain and headaches.  Remember, it is not normal for children to experience these symptoms.

Tips for a Safe Backpack

Lighten the Load:

A heavy backpack forces the wearer to bend forward. Choose to carry only those items that are required for the day. Each night remove articles that can be left at home. When organizing the contents of the backpack, distribute the weight evenly. Place the heaviest items on the bottom to keep the weight off of the shoulders and maintain better posture.

Wear Both Straps:

By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is distributed more evenly and it will help a child’s posture while wearing it.

Wear the backpack over the mid back:

The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and not below the lower back.  The straps should not be too loose but adjusted enough to allow the child to freely move their shoulders and remove the backpack. A padded back reduces pressure on the back, shoulders, and under arms helping to enhance comfort.

Warning signs that a backpack is too heavy:

  • Change in posture when wearing the backpack
  • Difficulty putting on or taking off the backpack
  • Pain when wearing the backpack
  • Red marks, tingling or numbness

As Summer Fades…Remember the “Sunshine Vitamin”


The best source of vitamin D is the sun.  For decades we have been told to avoid the sun to reduce the risk of skin cancer but now many scientists criticize this approach.  We need moderate sun exposure by exposing our face, arms, hands, legs or back to the sun at least twice a week for 10 to 15 minutes. With the long winter months approaching, how do we do this in Spokane?  Because we cannot get sun, many of us have extremely low levels of Vitamin D.

Why is Vitamin D important?  In recent years there have been numerous research studies that show that Vitamin D deficiency is linked to osteoporosis, chronic inflammation, decreased immune system function, multiple sclerosis, mood disorders and increased risks for various cancers.  Remember, Vitamin D is activated by sunlight from the skin, which is then released into the bloodstream, where it travels to the liver and kidneys to become activated.  Production is increased or decreased in response to the body’s needs.

Many believe tanning beds are a great way to supplement natural sunlight.  Most tanning beds only give you UVA rays or UVB rays and you need both UVA and UVB.  The risks of tanning beds far outweigh the potential benefits.  The best way to counteract the lack of sun in the winter in the Pacific Northwest is to consume good dietary sources including salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and other fatty coldwater fish, shrimp, beef liver, egg yolks and sun-dried mushrooms.  Another healthy option is to supplement with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Research studies are showing that most individuals will benefit by supplementing with 2,000 to 5,000 IU each day.  This is considered a very safe amount especially in the Northwest where many people have extremely low levels of Vitamin D.  If you have any questions or concerns, please schedule a nutritional consult with Dr. Fichter.