It's that time of the year again! Parents - when you're packing your child's school bag, make sure its weight doesn't exceed 10% of your child's body weight. Also, remember to adjust the straps so the bag sits snug against their back and doesn't hang too low.
Backpacks can affect your children's health. Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly or improperly distributed can result in poor posture; and even distort the spinal column, throwing it out of alignment. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage.
More than 50 per cent of young people experience at least one episode of lower back pain by their teenage years. Research indicates that this could be caused, to a great extent, by improper use of backpacks.
Prevention is key to avoiding injury. If you haven't already, now is a good time to teach your children how to properly use their backpacks.
Here are some tips from the Ontario Chiropractic Association:
Packing it properly: Make sure your child’s pack contains only what is needed for that day, and that the weight is distributed evenly. The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10 to 15 percent of the wearer’s body weight.
Choosing the right backpack: Go for lightweight vinyl or canvas. Pick a pack that has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, padded back and plenty of pockets.
Putting it on: Put the pack on a flat surface, at waist height. Slip on the pack, one shoulder at a time, and then adjust the straps to fit comfortably.
Wearing it right: Both shoulder straps should be used, and adjusted so that the pack fits snugly to the body, without dangling to the side. You should be able to slide your hand between the backpack and your child’s back.
Your child’s backpack shouldn’t be a drag. Maintaining good back health in youth may help prevent back problems in later life. So, pack it light and wear it right!
Dr. Eve Choe is a Toronto-based chiropractor, and certified posture expert, acupuncture & orthotics provider.