It’s that season again.  Moms everywhere are already starting to think about back-to-school and all the shopping and preparation that will entail.  One of the most important school accessories is obviously the backpack. While the kids are only thinking about colors and designs, parents should be concentrating on how a particular bag will end up affecting their children’s health.  Especially during the pre-teen and teenage years a lot of grown is happening in the spine which makes it very susceptible to influences such as how much weight they are carrying around on their back. So, let’s dive into what to look for when your kids are trying different backpacks preparing for the school year. 

The first thing to address is what good posture looks like so you can recognize if wearing a backpack impacts it.  Posture is the position we hold our body in and changes whether we are sitting, standing or laying down. In order to have “good” posture your spine must be aligned properly and your muscles must sustain enough tension to fight against the pull of gravity.  As chiropractors we are paying attention to our patients posture on a daily basis. When we look at a patient from the side, we should see the ears lined up with the shoulders, shoulders in line with the hip joints, and hips stacked over the ankles with the knees slightly forward.  This is how the body is designed to bear the weight of the head and gravity. When you watch a child with a backpack on and see they are leaning forward, butt sticking out and their shoulders lifted you know they are carrying too much weight. A good rule of thumb is a backpack should not weight more than 10-20% of their body weight in order to be safe to carry with good posture.  With these things in mind, here are some tips for when you are backpack shopping for the school year. 

  1. Always wear both shoulder straps for the weight of the bag is evenly distributed across the shoulders.  Routinely wearing a strap over one shoulder causes strain to the muscles of the neck and shoulder and will alter your gait if the bag is too heavy. 
  2. Adjust the length of the shoulder straps so that the pack rides higher up on your back.  It should not fall below the waist and the level of the hips. 
  3. Adjust the straps as it gets colder to compensate for heavy clothing and jackets. 
  4. To avoid chafing with the shoulder straps avoid the backpack swaying from side to side.  Balance out the weight being carried so it stays flush along the back. 
  5. Use the waist and chest straps when they are available.  The waist strap aids in disturbing the weight across the hips which reduces the load for the shoulders.  While the chest strap holds the backpack in place to further prevent the backpack from swaying. 

For further information about backpacks, how to wear them and for guidelines for fitting a backpack perfectly to your child tune into our backpack webinar via Facebook Live tonight, August 7th at 6:15pm.  For more information on our webinars or any other event check the EVENT tab on the Facebook page.  As usual reach out with any questions!  

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