Falling Back on Chiropractors

Student visits to the chiropractor increase due to back pain from heavy backpacks


Upon returning to school, Maya Bennett ’22 puts on her backpack for the first time after months of online learning. Within a couple of hours, her back starts to ache with persistent pain and her shoulders droop, unable to hold the weight of her backpack. 

Bennett is just one example of the many students who are noticing recent backaches after returning to in-person learning. The National Chiropractor’s Association reported a 138% increase in the number of high school students visiting chiropractors because of their back pain, attributing the rise to students’ new inability to carry their heavy backpacks. 

“My back hurts so much,” Bennett said. “I had forgotten all about backpacks, otherwise I would have taken the remote option!”

A recent study at South Pacific University found that after three months, children lose their back strength by 40% after a long duration of no activity, which was the case for many high schoolers. To further explain why chiropractic visits are spiking, Dr. Dave Harrison, a licensed chiropractor, reveals other observations he has seen with this new surge of patients.

“Essentially, these students lost their stamina and didn’t properly train their backs before wearing their backpacks,” Harrison said. “Some of those students who didn’t take the time to properly retrain their backs have come in with severe health problems from the chronic back stress of carrying heavy backpacks.” 

In order to prevent the back pain from progressing into something worse, Harrison, as well as other licensed chiropractors developed a three-day training program for students to stretch and recover their back strength. The purpose of the program is to ease students back into the rhythm of using their backpacks. With a cost of $750, experts say that if the program is followed properly, students should be free of their back pain and won’t have to visit the chiropractor anymore. 

However, the program requires time and patience to see its effect. To provide students with immediate relief, the administration has also started implementing measures to help students with their back pain. 

“We anticipated a number of challenges when it came to reopening school, but one of the most unexpected have definitely been students’ back pains,” Stevenson Principal Trent Lee said. “We now have a licensed chiropractor on site so that students can relieve their pain during this period of readjustment.”

Despite reports from The Science Times revealing that the program’s success rate is at 7%, the program’s current enrollees are hopeful about its efficacy. Stevenson students are especially hopeful that with the combination of their on-site chiropractor and the program, they will be pain free soon. 

“I hope that this pain goes away and I never have to visit the chiropractor again,” Bennett said. “I’m too young to be having back issues!”