With kids of all ages going back to school, parents have spent time and money shopping for back to school supplies, including backpacks. Most kids and parents picked a backpack that looked cool, had their favorite superhero character or their favorite color. How many of you took into consideration the fit of the backpack and how it could affect the spine health of the child lugging around the bag? Carrying too much weight in a backpack that is not distributed correctly can cause back pain and injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are more than 6,500 emergency room visits each year by children ages 5-18 which stem from injuries related to heavy backpacks or book bags.
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), there are several ways to prevent the needless pain that backpack misuse could cause.
- Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
- The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
- A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back.
- Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry-and the heavier the backpack will be.
- Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
- Wide, padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable, and can dig into your child's shoulders.
- The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
- If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child's teacher. Ask if your child could leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter hand-out materials or workbooks.
- Although the use of rollerpacks - or backpacks on wheels - has become popular in recent years, the ACA is now recommending that they be used cautiously and on a limited basis by only those students who are not physically able to carry a backpack. Some school districts have begun banning the use of rollerpacks because they clutter hallways, resulting in dangerous trips and falls.
Keep your kid's backs healthy at an early age by following the guidelines shown above. After a back injury occurs, wearing a backpack can also slow the healing process. Keep your children happy, active and pain free this school year by spending a few extra minutes choosing a backpack that fits.
Thank you for your time and attention. Let’s make it safe this Monday.
Sales Manager, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company