September is quickly approaching and that means back to school is just around the corner. While parents rejoice and the kid’s moan and groan, it’s important to get geared up for school. This means getting the right backpack for your child that will last throughout the school year.
Although not as important in primary years, when your child enters middle school, his or her backpack burden will start to grow. Packing everything from textbooks to sports gear to laptops and lunches, kids’ backpacks become weighed down and overloaded.
Carrying this load unevenly or improperly often results in poor posture and distortion of the natural curves in the upper, middle and lower backs resulting in muscle strain, irritation to the spinal joints and ribcage, rounded shoulders and affects balance making it easier to fall.
More than fifty percent of young people experience at least one episode of lower back pain by their teenage years. Studies suggest that this could be caused, in large part, by improper use of backpacks.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good, lasting pack. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Choose the right backpack with specific design features.
– Backpacks made of light materials such as vinyl or canvas are much better and lighter than leather.
– Pick a pack with two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps, at least two inches wide (messenger bags slung over one shoulder force muscles to compensate due to uneven weight distribution)
– A hip or waist strap and chest strap can be helpful to equalize and redistribute the weight of the backpack.
– Look for a padded back with plenty of pockets or individualized compartments
Pack it light.
– Ensure your child only packs what is needed for the day and that the weight in the pack is evenly distributed.
– The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10-15% of the wearer’s own body weight.
– Remember to pack heavier objects closer to the body and place bumpy odd shaped items on the outside, away from the back.
– It’s a good idea to have your child clean out his or her pack once a week.
Wear it right.
– Both shoulder straps should be used and adjusted so the pack fits snugly to the body
– The top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder and bottom should sit approximately two inches above the waist
– Lift the backpack using leg muscles keeping it close to the body.
– If your child is leaning forward when walking, there may be too much weight in the backpack.
So now you know what to buy, how to pack it and how to wear it! Encouraging good posture and frequent stretching will also keep your child’s spine healthy and happy!
A health practitioner, chiropractor and acupuncturist with a distinct integrative care approach, Aliya brings extensive experience in pre-natal and pediatric wellness to her clinical practice at Restore Integrative Health in Toronto. She is also a runner, yoga instructor and new mother. Visit her website at draliya.ca or follow her on Twitter @DrAliyaVisram or on Instagram @DrAliyaVisramDC