Set your child up for success this school year!
With the new school year upon us, one of the most common questions we get as chiropractors at this time of year is about backpacks. Young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations and the use of overweight backpacks is a contributing factor. A recent study conducted in Italy found that the average child carries a backpack that would be the equivalent of a 39 lb burden for a 176 lb man or a 29 lb load for a 132 lb woman. Of those children carrying heavy backpacks to school, 60% had experienced back pain as a result. The ACA (American Chiropractic Association) offers the following tips on backpack safety.
What can parents do to prevent backpack related aches and pains?
1. Make sure that your child's backpack weighs no more than 5-10% of his or her body weight. If the backpack is too heavy, your child will lean foward and cause stress on the lumbar region.
2. The backpack should never hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders and causes your child to lean forward while walking.
3. A backpack with individualized compartments helps distribute the contents of the backpack evenly and most effectively.
4. Bigger is not better. The bigger the bag, the easier it is to add more into it! Make sure the size of the bag is appropriate for the child's size. Resist the temptation to buy a bag that's too large just so that your child can use it for longer.
5. Make sure that your child wears both shoulder straps. Wearing the backpack on one shoulder can cause neck and muscle spasms.
6. Wide paded straps are very important to help prevent the straps from digging into your child's shoulders.
7. The shoulder straps should be adjustable so that the pack can be fitted to your child's frame. Shoulder straps that are too loose will cause the pack to dangle and cause spinal misaligment and pain.
8. If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child's teacher. Find out if your child can leave their heaviest textbooks at school.