It’s Back To School – Backpack Safety is a Must!

It’s Back to School Time!  You know what that means?  It’s time to talk about Backpack Safety!  It is estimated that at least half of all student backpacks are too heavy for children to be carrying.  As a result, doctors and chiropractors are seeing more children than ever complaining of back pain, which can have long-term effects on the spine and nervous system.  Research is revealing the negative effects of improper backpack use.  Abnormal stress on a young child’s growing spine can have significant negative impacts.  Early exposure to back stress can lead to a lifetime of back problems.  So in order to minimize these effects, I would like to provide you with some helpful tips:

1.  Choose the right back pack–  Choose a backpack that has wide cushioned straps which will distribute the weight on shoulders evenly.  In addition, a backpack with a waist strap helps stabilize the weight by not allowing the pack to flop around as they walk.

2.  Make sure the fit is right–  Make sure the backpack fits properly.  The straps should not be so tight that the pack goes above the collar line and the pack should not be wider than the shoulders.  It should also be adjusted tight enough so that it does not hang more than 4 inches below the belt line.

3.  Pack Correctly– The weight of the loaded back pack should not be more than 15% of the body weight of the wearer, particularly in small children.  Also, students should pack the heaviest objects first so that they are carried lower and closer to the body.  Students should only be packing essential items and if needed, make frequent stops at a locker to exchange books.

4..  Lift Correctly– Check the weight of the backpack.  Face the backpack before picking it up.  Bend at the knees and make sure to lift with the legs, not with the back.  Put on one strap at a time.

5.  Wear Correctly– Use BOTH straps and make sure they are snug.  If there is a waist strap, use it.  Don’t sling the backpack over one shoulder.  Messenger style bag, which get slung over one shoulder, should be rotated so that they are not being carried over the same shoulder at all time.

A good way to check to see if their backpack is affecting their spine is look at their posture, especially at their shoulders.  Is one shoulder lower than the other?  This means that their posture is being affected and in turn their nervous system is being affected.  Please be aware of these effects because they can cause problems in the future.  Prevention is the key to health.  Lets all be PROACTIVE about health rather than REACTIVE to our health.  If you have any questions or if you would like me to a free assessment on the backpacks of your child please call or email me.  Thank you and have a great day!

Dr. Noah

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