Most of us probably have not carried a backpack in quite some time. Every day you load up you child’s lunch, homework, gym clothes, and running shoes into their backpacks and send them off for the day never thinking about the potential consequences of that heavy load.
More than 50% of young people experience at least one episode of lower back pain by the time they reach their teenage years. Research indicates that improper use of backpacks may be a cause.
Children ages K-8 should load a pack to only 10% of their bodyweight. Secondary school kids should not exceed 15% of their body weight.
When purchasing a backpack for your kids, it’s important to choose a pack that;
- is lightweight
- has adjustable shoulder straps with padding
- has a waist strap
- has several pockets
- does not extend below the child’s hip bones
The constant weight of the pack over time especially if not carried evenly across the shoulders can strain the spinal muscles and joints leading to poor posture, headaches, back pain. These spinal alignment issues may increase the risk of back pain later in life.
Back Pack Tips
- Always use both shoulder straps and the waist strap if available.
- Pack heavy items closer to the child’s back and use pockets to disperse items.
- Lift the pack onto a table and have the children slip the bag over the shoulders instead of lifting the heavy load from the floor
- Don’t overload the pack. Take only what you need!
Dr. Jennifer Fergusson graduated Cum Laude with Clinic Honours from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. She maintains a family practice in Almonte.
For more information see the Ontario Chiropractic Association website. www.chiropractic.on.ca