It’s that time of year again. The children are heading back to school and that means stocking up on supplies. But amongst all the pencils and notebooks, arguably the most important item your child needs is the right backpack.
Increasingly, children are suffering from back pain at an earlier age, and at least part of the problem is improper utilization of backpacks. Children are habitually carrying backpacks with loads that exceed 20% of their body weight–well above the recommended weight.
In an attempt to compensate for this load, postural deviations occur in the neck and trunk, rendering the body more vulnerable to fatigue and injury, such as: muscle spasms; neck, shoulder, and back pain; and neurological dysfunction. Factors in addition to excessive load that contribute to these issues include:
- inappropriate carrying methods (i.e. using only one shoulder strap),
- poor position of the load, and poor load distribution
Some backpack safety tips that can help reduce the stress on your body are listed below.
BACKPACK SAFETY TIPS
- Choose a pack that is proportional in size to the wearer
- Reduce weight on the shoulders by ensuring the backpack does not hang more than four inches below the waistline
- Choose a pack with wide, padded, adjustable shoulder straps; a waist strap is also beneficial
- Use both shoulder straps, and waist strap to help distribute load
- Pack heavier objects closest to the body & odd shaped objects away from the back, using multiple compartments to allow better load distribution
- Pack only essential items to ensure the load does not exceed 10% of the wearer’s body weight
It is never normal for you or your child to experience pain. Early detection and treatment of spinal or other health-related problems can help prevent progression of these problems and/or future incidences. For more information about backpack safety, please see :“Pack it Light, Wear it Right” from the Ontario Chiropractic Association.