School is in session now, and that means kids across the nation have to be supplied with all the necessary items needed for school work and for daily sessions in class. One of the most important items your child will need is a good sturdy backpack. These are more important than you might think, because in addition to being sturdy, you should choose a backpack that will not negatively impact your child's spinal health. If your child is carrying a backpack that's way too heavy, or one that promotes neck and shoulder pain, that could cause problems. Here are some tips to help you avoid all that.
Finding the right backpack
When shopping for backpacks, don't give into your child's request to buy the most colorful one, or one which is decorated with their favorite superhero. Instead, there are some other characteristics you should be looking for, and according to the American Chiropractic Association, these will help to avoid any health issues with your child:
Padded straps – if the backpack has broad padded straps, it won't dig into your child's shoulders, and they should be adjustable as well, so you can avoid back and shoulder pain.
Backpack fit – no backpack should extend below the child's waist, because when it does, that will encourage poor posture by forcing your child to lean forward when walking.
Numerous compartments – a backpack which has numerous compartments can be balanced better by inserting items all over the backpack, as opposed to centering them in one or two locations.
After you have purchased the appropriate backpack for your child, there are some other things to keep in mind, so that good health can be maintained throughout the long school season. Here are some of the things that you should be aware of in order to prevent any health issues or injuries to your child:
Empty it regularly – you'd be amazed how much clutter kids can accumulate in their backpacks over a period of time. In order to prevent the backpack from becoming overly heavy, it's a good idea to have it cleaned out regularly, so your child doesn't accumulate miscellaneous items in there that have no value for school. If your child is constantly coming home with a heavy backpack loaded with books, it might be a good idea to have a conversation with teachers to come up with an alternative that won't be so burdensome for your child.
Use both straps – some kids get the idea that wearing a backpack on just one shoulder is cool or fashionable, but this can actually be harmful behavior. When just one strap is being used, that will almost always cause an uneven weight distribution, and promote the possibility of back pain or muscle spasms.
Keep it light – a consistently heavy backpack will invariably affect your child's posture, and it could also be a key factor in promoting neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the backpack never weighs more than 10% of your child's actual body weight, because this is a burden that your child should be equipped to handle.
About The Author
Dr. Chris Gubbels is a Fort Collins Chiropractor and owner of Square ONE Advanced Spine Correction. He has been published in peer reviewed scientific journals, presented cases at scientific research conferences and holds advanced post graduate training in spine biomechanics, scoliosis treatment, personal injury and wellness.