Backpacks 101: We’ve Got Your Back On How to Start Your School Year Off Right

In just a short time the kids are heading back to school, and that means backpacks filled with school supplies, sports gear and lots of other fun stuff! A heavy or poor fitted backpack can cause unwanted stress on growing spines, which can lead to back pain and dysfunction. Research has shown that more than 50% of young people experience at least one episode of back pain by their teenage years. A properly fitted backpack can help reduce the risk of back pain occurring and help keep our kids spines safe during the school year.

Chiropractors are spine and musculoskeletal system experts that are trained to assess, diagnose and treat issues arising from the spine. Chiropractors are proficient at treating all age groups, including children and can provide advice to help growing kiddos function at their optimal level.

6 Tips On Choosing The Right Backpack

  • Choose a bag made of lightweight material such as canvas or vinyl, avoid any heavier materials like leather
  • The backpack should have two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps. 
  • A hip, waist or chest strap will help reduce the strain on the back and transfer some of the load to the hips
  • A padded back and plenty of pockets/compartments to help distribute the weight
  • The backpack should fit the size of the child. Should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder and the bottom should not fall below the hipbone. Bigger isn’t always better in this case!
  • Let your child try on different backpacks in store to see which one fits best. Teach them to bend at the knees to pick it up instead of bending forward.

 3 Tips On Packing A Backpack

  • The total weight of the backpack should not extend 10-15% of the wearer’s body weight. For example, a child who is 50 lbs should not be carrying a backpack heavier than 7.5 lbs.
  • The contents should only be what is needed for the day or activity (don’t need extra/unnecessary stuff)
  • Heavy items should be packed in the compartments closer to the body. Spread the weight throughout the pack in different compartments​

So I Have My Backpack All Ready To Go.. Now What?

Time to test it out! The backpack should fit snugly against the body but you should be able to slide a hand between the backpack and the wearers back. Always tell your child to use both straps while wearing the backpack instead of slinging it over one shoulder, this will help keep the weight evenly distributed and prevent any added stress on the spine. Your child will be using this backpack all year at school, to sleepovers with friends and to sporting events so it is worth taking the time to choose the right backpack for them!

If you’re interested on more information on choosing the right backpack or want to bring your child in for a musculoskeletal and spinal assessment before the school year kicks off. To book an appointment with Dr. Lindsay Barker, DC or one of our other health care professionals at Choice Health Centre call (902) 404-3668 or book an initial assessment online.

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