Now we are about a month or so into the school year and we are all starting to settle into the school rhythm. But now is also when we start to see the symptoms of bad postures from desks and the computers at school. Another culprit many of us don’t look at to be the cause of the symptoms that our children are experiencing is the backpacks that we are sending them to school with. In this post we are going to give you some advice about backpack safety and when it is time to schedule the appointment for your son or daughter.
What is a safe backpack weight?
Researchers say a child's backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of what the student weighs. They add that trolley backpacks should weigh less than 20 percent of a child's weight. Experts say heavy backpacks can cause muscle soreness as well as back and neck pain.
Tips for Proper Use of Backpacks
Backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teenagers. Improperly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.
Although they are linked to posture problems, heavy backpacks do not cause scoliosis. Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine that often shows up in children during adolescence.
Choosing the Right Backpack
When choosing a backpack, look for one that is appropriate for the size of your child. In addition, look for some of the following features:
- Wide, padded shoulder straps
- Two shoulder straps
- Padded back
- Waist strap
- Lightweight backpack
- Rolling backpack
To prevent injury when using a backpack, do the following:
- Always use both shoulder straps when carrying the backpack. The correct use of both wide, well-padded shoulder straps will help distribute the weight of the backpack across the back.
- Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the back.
- Organize the items inside so that heavier items are low and towards the center of the backpack.
- Pack light, removing items if the backpack is too heavy. Carry only those items that are required for the day and, if possible, leave unnecessary books at home or school.
- Lift properly by bending at the knees when picking up a backpack.
- Consider using a crossbody bag as a good alternative for carrying books and supplies.
Tips for Parents
Parents can help ensure their child's safety by doing the following:
- Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about any numbness, tingling, or discomfort in the arms or legs. These symptoms may indicate poor backpack fit or too much weight being carried.
- Watch your child put on and take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle. If the backpack seems too heavy, have your child remove some of the books and carry them in his or her arms to ease the load on the back.
- Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager.
- Encourage your child to stop at his or her locker when time permits throughout the day to drop off or exchange heavier books.
- If your child has back pain that does not improve, consider scheduling an appointment with a local chiropractor or a physical therapist to ensure proper ergonomics and alignment. The chiropractor can teach your child some stretches that can be done throughout the school day and correct any misalignments of the spine that are coming up.