There’s no way around it. Our kid’s backpacks are weighing them down. According to a recent study, the average 6th grader’s backpack weighs 18.4 pounds. That’s equivalent to carrying a car tire on your back! And that’s on average – some of those packs weighed in at 30 pounds. That’s a lot of stress to put on any frame, especially one that is still growing.
Think back to the last time you wore a backpack. If it was heavy, you can probably picture the strain it put on not only your back, but your shoulders as it pulled across the straps. You might even remember your neck or low back being sore after taking the backpack off. You may have felt some muscle strain or noticed that you were walking differently or leaning instead of standing tall. These are all physical signs that a backpack is too heavy or improperly worn.
An improperly worn or overweight backpack can cause health challenges that can last a lifetime if not properly addressed. The stress that a backpack puts on developing spines can lead to posture imbalances, muscles strains and subluxations (the chiropractic term for a misalignment or lack of motion in the spine). These subluxations lead to a variety of health challenges when left uncorrected including headaches, scoliosis, arm tingling and numbness, and low back pain.
You’re probably wondering how your child can avoid these problems and still carry their school supplies without a personal assistant. Here are a few helpful tips to minimize the effects of backpack strain on your child’s health.
Number 1: Proper Fit
There are different sized backpacks for a reason. Don’t make the mistake of choosing one based on what can fit in it; pick on that fits the wearer. The bottom should rest at the curve of the low back and fall no more than 4 inches below the waistline. Make sure that the straps are snug and that the backpack is against their back, not sagging.
Number 2: Two Padded Straps
I cannot stress enough how important it is to use both straps. It balances the weight across the shoulders and keeps the weight from shifting side to side. Choosing padded straps also alleviates some of the pressure that can be put on the front of the shoulder.
Number 3: Weight Management
Make sure that your child does not over-pack their backpack. Keeping the pack’s weight to 10-15 percent of your child’s body weight is a good guideline; removing non-essentials is the key. And when they pack their bags, have them keep the heaviest items closes to their backs to help with balance.
Helping your kids to be proactive in backpack posture is just one more way that you can support their health. (If you’re concerned that your children may already be feeling the effects of backpack stain, reach out to our office and we’d be happy to help with any concerns. Our goal is to help you Get Healthy and Stay Healthy for Life – and that starts as early as you would like!)