Back to School Backpack Safety!
Written By Dr. Natalie Griffith
As Doctors of Chiropractic, we are constantly trying to minimize the effects of repetitive stress on our patients’ bodies. Since the first day of school is right around the corner, there’s no better time to discuss repetitive stress in our children.
A LOT of our pediatric patients come in for back pain related to poor backpack use!
Purchasing a backpack that properly fits your child and making sure that they load it correctly is essential to their spinal health.
What should I look for when buying a backpack?
A backpack should be the length of your child’s torso (starting at the shoulders and ending at the tops of the hips).
Backpacks that have chest and waist straps may not be cool these days, but they help better distribute weight throughout the body, lightening the load on the shoulders and neck.
Buy the smallest backpack that will fit your child’s needs to limit overloading their bag.
What is the proper way to wear a backpack?
A backpack should be worn using both shoulder straps.
If chest and waist straps are available, they should be fastened.
If your child is young, their backpack should weigh no more than 10% of their body weight.
If your child is in high school or college, it should weigh no more that 15% of their body weight.
When loading a backpack, always place heaviest items closest to their back and utilize multiple pockets to spread out the weight of their other supplies.
When backpacks are too heavy, what else can we do?
Make sure to check your child’s bags often to remove any unnecessary items.
Have your children only carry the items they are going to use for that day.
Encourage your child to put their backpack down when they have the opportunity.
If your child participates in sports/extracurriculars, have a separate bag for those items that can be stowed in their locker or car when not in use.
If your child must carry multiple items that are too heavy, consider purchasing a backpack with wheels (check with your school to make sure these are allowed).
Have your child carry extra books and lunches in their hands to help distribute weight.
As parents, we do the best we can when our kids are with us, but we can’t always keep an eye on them.
If your child starts to develop red marks on their shoulders, headaches, neck pain, back pain, or numbness and tingling into their hands, these are signs that their backpack is too heavy or not fitting well.
If these issues do not resolve in a few days after correcting the issue, they should be checked by their chiropractor.
Our doctors are happy to check your child’s backpack fit and any spinal concerns or complaints of they might have.