Number one

Backpack Check Up

I know “back to school” is an ugly phrase for some of my younger patients but I also know that lots of mums and dads are heading out right now to stock up on school supplies with backpacks being at the top of their lists.

Students carry a great weight on their backs. You only need to watch kids struggle their way to school with oversized, over-stuffed, unstable backpacks to appreciate how the daily strain can lead to stress on the developing spinal column, neck, arms, joints and muscles of growing kids.

By choosing an appropriate backpack and packing and wearing it properly, a lot of this strain can be avoided.

How to Choose a Backpack

A good backpack should:

  • be light weight when empty.
  • have two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps.
  • have a waist strap or chest strap to cinch the shoulder straps together and provide stability.
  • have several individual pockets.
  • be appropriate for the child’s body size – it should not extend above a child’s shoulders or below the top of his/her hip bones.

Packing a Backpack:  Watch your weight!

Elementary school students should carry no more than 10% of their body weight in a backpack.  High school students should not be carrying more than 15% of their body weight.

Pack heavy items closest to the body and sharp or irregularly shaped objects furthest away. Make sure the weight is distributed evenly throughout the backpack. Use the pockets!

Check List for Lifting and Wearing a Backpack

  • Use both hands to check the weight of the backpack
  • Squat or kneel to pick up the backpack and prop it on a counter or table before slipping it on.
  • Lift with the knees not the back and avoid twisting!
  • Wear both straps to keep the weight shared equally across your body and to avoid leaning to one side.
  • Adjust the straps so the backpack is not worn too low (keep it above the hip bones) otherwise, you’ll walk bent forward and stress your spine.
  • Do up the waist strap to spread the backpack’s weight across the hips and away from the back.

Check your load!

Here’s an example of the weight of some of the more commonly carried items that may be in your backpack:

Weights of Commonly Carried Items

Remember, students in elementary school should only be carrying 10% of their body weight and that’s 15% for high school students!

If your child is one of the many whose body suffers from the strain of heavy or improperly used backpacks, chiropractic may help. Bring him or her in with the offending backpack and have the two evaluated together.

Chiropractic care is a gentle, drug-free way to keep a body of any age performing at its best.