As we approach the back to school season two things come to my mind, 1) HOLY COW! How is it back to school time already?!!!??? 2) Backpack safety.
How is it back to school time already? I’m sure, on the one hand, everyone can relate to this sentiment and on the other hand there are probably a plethora of emotions felt by caregivers as their kiddos go back to school or enter school for the first time. I am reminded to take in and treasure each moment with my son, because time is flying!!!
Did you know that backpacks are the leading cause of shoulder and back pain in children? The other day I saw a little girl that could not have been any older than 4 or 5 carrying a backpack that went down to the middle of her thighs. As a chiropractor, I see this kind of thing and immediately think about the impact the weight has on the little girl’s spine. So I do my duty every year and share with you some things to consider when choosing a backpack for your child and loading the backpack. Here is a checklist created by the American Chiropractic Association:
The ACA offers the following checklist to help parents select the best possible backpack for their children:
- Is the backpack the correct size for your child? 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. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
- Does the backpack have two wide, padded shoulder straps? Non-padded straps are not only uncomfortable, but also they can place unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles.
- Does your child use both straps? Lugging a heavy backpack by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, low-back pain, and poor posture.
- Are the shoulder straps adjustable? The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. The backpack should be evenly centered in the middle of your child’s back.
- Does the backpack have a padded back? A padded back not only provides increased comfort, but also protects your child from being poked by sharp edges on school supplies (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.
- Does the pack have several compartments? A backpack with individualized compartments helps position the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back, and try to place the heaviest items closet to the body.
The ACA recommends that parents or guardians help children pack their backpacks properly, and they should make sure children never carry more than 10 percent of their body weight. For example, a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t carry a backpack heavier than 10 pounds, and a 50-pound child shouldn’t carry more than 5 pounds. In addition, parents should ask their children to report any pain or other problems resulting from carrying a backpack.
Dr. Maura and Dr. Jacob are both specialists in chiropractic care for children. If your child reports pain or you notice changes in his posture, please give us a call or ask us about your child’s spine when you are in for your regular adjustment.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful school year.