It’s that time of year again! We all want our children to do well in school, we make sure they do their homework and turn it in on time, study for tests and listen to their teachers. But, just and their minds are growing and developing so are their bodies! Recently scientists have begun to examine the effects of carrying heavy backpacks full of books and what they have discovered is that carrying heavy backpacks may pose a serious threat to your child’s spinal development. In our clinic, we see a lot of kids and teens throughout the year with aches and pains from carrying around everything but the kitchen sink from classroom to classroom. We also notice the negative impact this has on postural development, which can cause problems throughout life! Since it’s easier to grow healthy children than to repair broken adults, here are some helpful tips to help you and your child choose the best backpack to avoid aches and pains and aid in the healthy development of their bodies.
- Lighten the load! Kids should carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in their packs. Choose a backpack made of a lightweight material and find a way to trim down what your child carries on his or her back all day long. Is your child leaning forward while wearing their backpack? If this is necessary there is too much weight in the pack!
- Choose a backpack with wide, comfortable straps. Tight, narrow straps that into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves. This pressure can contribute to tingling, numbness and weakness in the arms and hands.
- Wear both straps! Kids (and especially teens!) who wear their backpacks over just one shoulder end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight, this leads to the development of lower and upper back pain and strain in the shoulders and neck.
- Make sure the backpack fits properly! Tighten the straps enough for the backpack to fit close to the body, the pack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and not sag down to the buttocks.
- Pack it properly. Put heavier items, such as textbooks closest to the center of the back. Make sure kids don’t tote unnecessary items like extra books or electronics they may not need that day. Have your child clean out his or her backpack once a week, lots of unneeded papers and supplies can build up over time.
To re-cap, here’s what to look for in the perfect pack:
- Two wide comfortable straps
- Padded back
- Lightweight material (canvas vs leather)
- Waist belt (to redistribute the weight of the backpack from the shoulders and back to the pelvis)
- Choose the smallest pack for your child’s needs, this will help prevent over-packing.
Finally, have your child examined regularly by a chiropractor so that any potential spinal, or postural, problems can be addressed and corrected. Our team at Adamson Chiropractic wishes you and your families a very fun and safe school year! Happy Back-to-School!