Is Your Backpack Safe?
Schoolbooks and backpacks are a necessary part of a student’s life. When a heavy backpack filled with books is incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the weight can pull you backward. To compensate, you often bend forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally. Putting this kind of stress and strain on your body daily can, over time, lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain.
Luckily, following a few simple guidelines can help to avoid this type of back pain. These guidelines also apply to adults using backpacks, so be a good role model and show your kids how it’s done right!
- Keep your backpack as light as possible. The weight carried should not exceed more than 10% of the child’s total weight.
- Size: Select the proper size backpack for your child’s back. It should not extend above the top of the shoulder, or below the top of the hipbone.
- Material: The most back-friendly backpacks are made of lightweight materials such as vinyl or canvas.
- Comfort: A backpack should have a padded back for extra comfort and protection. The backpack should also have well-padded shoulder straps to ease pressure on the shoulders and neck, which can result in tingling and pain.
- Pockets: Choose a backpack that has several pockets instead of one large compartment. This will help to distribute weight and keep the contents from shifting.
- Packing: The heaviest items should be loaded closest to the back. Position books and other materials in a way that prevents them from sliding. Pack any sharp items towards the front so they won’t dig into the back.
- Do not purchase knapsacks with only one strap. By carrying the bag on the right side and then switching to the left, you will not balance the load. Instead, you will strain both sides independently.
- Make sure that children wear both straps on their shoulder’s to distribute the weight evenly.
- Perform a daily stretching routine to prepare the muscles for work.
- Have your child perform a cool-down routine when your child arrives home to reduce stiffness/pain.
- Perform exercises specifically to strengthen muscles that are overworked.
- Develop proper eating habits that include appropriate calcium and magnesium.
- If possible, buy a second used set of textbooks for home to limit carrying books to and from school.
- Have your child examined regularly by a Chiropractor so that any potential spinal or postural problems can be addressed and corrected.
October 2, 2012