Yes, it’s true. It’s the end of summer and back to school for our children. Soon our children will be hoisting heavy backpacks over their shoulders filled with important tools for learning such as books, laptops, school supplies, and loads of homework. All of these things are important for learning but when loaded into a backpack the weight of making the grade can add up. Making good grades is very important but will your child continue to make “A’s” if they have the stress of an overloaded book bag weighing down the spines destroying their posture over time even leading to stress on their brains?? What?!? Yes, I said stress on their brains! An overloaded backpack pulling down the shoulders can cause structural changes to your child’s spine leading to a forward head carriage posture thus stretching and irritating the spinal cord and brain stem. An irritated and inflamed spinal cord and brain stem leads to an irritated and unruly student. So, an overloaded backpack can not only result in lower back, neck and shoulder pain, but also regular headaches, ADD, and ADHD when this kind of physical stress is endured for a long period of time. Add it all up and that’s why backpack safety is so important for our children’s health and well-being. Here are some tips that can help parents and teachers make sure that school children aren’t carrying the wrong amount of weight so they can avoid ruining their key to maintaining good health, their spines and central nervous system.
Backpack Safety Tips:
- Your child should carry no more than 10% of his or her body weight. This means that a child that weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t carry a backpack heavier than 10 pounds.
- Make sure the backpack is the correct size for your child. A backpack should never be wider or longer than your child’s torso. A backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that passes the the 4 inch mark hanging lower than acceptable will cause a child’s head to lean forward when walking causing structural changes to the normal cervical curve over time.
- Make sure your child carries their backpack wearing both straps. It is important to have an equal distribution of weight by using both straps. Using a single strap will lead to uneven shoulders, mid-back problems, and lower back spasms.
- Make sure the backpack as two wide padded straps. Backpack straps without padding can place unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulders and can be very uncomfortable in general.
- Make sure the shoulder straps can be and are adjusted properly. Uneven straps will cause a shift in the weight of the backpack and distort a child’s posture. Straps that are too long will cause the backpack to hang lower than acceptable resulting in forward head carriage.
- Get a backpack with multiple compartments. Having many compartments can help distribute the weight of the backpack better and allow it to be carried with greater ease.
- Having your child under chiropractic care is also a great way to make sure that their spine is in proper alignment to prevent problems and symptoms from arising.