Every school year starts the same for me. While dropping my sons off at school in the morning I watch all the kids strut their stuff with their new gear, and I am reminded how backpacks can affect children’s spine and posture!
I routinely check the backpack of all the children in the practice every September, and conduct clinics and posture check-ups in the schools.
Here are my top tips to keep in mind for your children:
1) Choose a pack that FITS them! With the straps adjusted so that it sits on their shoulders, the bottom of the pack should rest either in their mid-lower back or just above their hips. A pack that is too small can strain the upper back. A pack that is too large will strain their shoulders, cause them to lean forward, and pull their centre of gravity down (which can make them more likely to lose their balance). Packs that are too large also make it easier to overfill them!
2) The total weight children should be carrying in their backpacks is roughly 10% of their body weight. Teens in grades 9-12 can carry up to 15%. Weigh your child, and then weigh them with their pack on. Modify what they carry as needed, and remind them to remove the pack when possible if standing for prolonged periods of time.
3) Remind your children to use both straps and adjust them so that the pack fits snugly. With a proper fit you should be able to slide your hand between the backpack and your back. Using the waist strap helps reduce the strain on their back and transfers some of the load to their hips.
Why is this important? Because the majority of spinal problems we see in adults orginate in childhood! Prevent your child from developing poor posture and poor health by adding a Chiropractor to the team of health professionals who care for them.