Back in Session, Backpack Safety Is Key for Kids Returning to School
By Sara Butler
It’s that time of year again -- school is back! While parents everywhere let out a collective sigh of relief, there’s still a lot of things to make sure your child has before the first day of school arrives, including a new backpack.
A backpack is more than a fashion accessory or a handy way to store the roughly 5,000 pounds of back-to-school supplies they need to take for the first day. A backpack is also something you must carefully choose to ensure your child’s spine remains healthy throughout the school year.
For the most part, choosing a new backpack for your child is a fairly straightforward process, but there are some do’s and don’ts that parents should abide by. Here are some handy tips from the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic to help get the school year off on the right foot!
What Can Go Wrong?
Kids are resilient. They look at you funny and may even ask why you’re always complaining about aches and pains. After all, most kids can attempt physical feats that would sideline an adult for days and bounce back right afterward. Even with that amazing physical resiliency, it’s still important to choose the right backpack to keep back, shoulder, and neck pain at bay. A child carrying the wrong backpack or continuously carrying a backpack that is too heavy for them will start to feel it.
Choosing the Right Backpack
One of the most important things to understand about backpacks is that they’re not one-size-fits-all. Your child may be wowed by the colors or characters on a backpack, but it’s important you look past that and look at the size to judge if it’s right for your child.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, these are the things you should be looking for when helping your child choose the right backpack:
- Look at the fit - A backpack should not go too far below a child’s waist. Four inches below the waist is the maximum it should go; if it goes too far past that, then that can set up your child for poor posture as they lean forward when walking to try to balance the weight correctly.
- Choose padded straps - Wide padded straps are important to not dig into your child’s shoulders. Adjustable straps are also crucial; if the straps are too loose, it can lead to back and shoulder pain.
- Make sure it has many compartments - A backpack with several compartments will help you and your child to better position contents to spread the weight more evenly. Bulky or heavy objects should be in the compartment closest to the body while smaller, lighter things can be reserved for outer pockets.
Now that you know how to choose the best type of backpack to fit your child, there are a few tips you should use to educate your children to ensure their ongoing spinal health while using a backpack:
- Keep it light - A backpack should never weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight. Heavy backpacks will impact posture and may eventually lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain.
- Wear both straps - Some kids think it’s cool to wear their backpack on just one shoulder, but that should be discouraged. Wearing just one strap can cause uneven weight distribution and lead to muscle spasms as well as back pain.
- Clean it out often - Kids can collect all types of things in their backpacks over time. Have you ever looked in your own purse? To avoid finding gross things later and ensure that the backpack doesn’t become too heavy, clean it regularly. If your child is consistently coming home with a backpack that’s too heavy for them, then maybe you should discuss with the teacher about leaving heavy books at school and simply bringing handouts home.
How the Chiropractor Can Help
Kids notoriously don’t listen to their parents. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that they may encounter back issues even if you follow the guidelines for getting the right backpack and counsel your child on how to use it correctly. Should this happen, the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic are here to help.
If your child experiences shoulder pain, neck discomfort, or even muscle spasms, then you need to make sure they see the chiropractor. Gentle, hands-on chiropractic adjustments can help to resolve joint dysfunctions that may be present due to improper backpack usage. Plus, the chiropractors can help to reinforce how to wear and use a backpack correctly to help them improve their posture as they restore proper function.
Setting up your child for success this school year starts with choosing the right backpack. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to ensure your child’s continued health and wellness. If you have any questions about backpacks and your child’s health, then the chiropractors at The Joint are happy to help!
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