YOUR HEALTH and backpacks

YOUR HEALTH and backpacks

Back to school often means back to school shopping. Ensuring your child has the proper equipment to get them to and from school is just as important as their other school supplies. Making sure your child has a proper fitting backpack and knowing how to pack it can help them avoid injury.

Backpacks can affect your child’s health

Carrying a heavy load that is improperly distributed can result in poor posture. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage.

Prevention is key

Choosing the right backpack: Go for lightweight vinyl or canvas. Pick a pack that has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, padded back and plenty of pockets. Bigger is not necessarily better. The backpack should never be wider or longer than your child’s torso, and the pack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline.

Packing it properly: Make sure your child’s pack contains only what is needed for that day, and that the weight is distributed evenly. The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10 percent of the carrier’s body weight for children in JK-grade 8; older children can carry up to 15 percent of their body weight. Make sure that pointy objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back. Pack the heaviest items closest to the back.

Putting it on: Put the pack on a flat surface, at waist height. Slip on the pack, one shoulder at a time, and then adjust the straps to fit comfortably. When lifting the pack, bend at the knees, not the waist.

Wearing it right: Both shoulder straps should be used, and adjusted so that the pack fits snugly to the body without dangling to the side. You should be able to slide your hand between the backpack and your child’s back. The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.

Your child’s backpack shouldn’t be a drag. Maintaining good back health in youth may help prevent back problems in later life. So, pack it light and wear it right!

If you or your child experiences any pain or discomfort resulting from backpack use, call your doctor of chiropractic. Doctors of chiropractic are licensed and trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages and will use a gentler type of treatment for children. In addition, doctors of chiropractic can also prescribe exercises designed to help develop strong muscles, along with instruction in good nutrition, posture and sleeping habits.