It’s school time again and that means heavy backpacks. Carrying around a small library on your back is a sure way to lead to spinal problems. We all know proper posture is essential for spinal health. Poor posture leads to compression of discs, muscle strain and imbalance, which leads to scoliosis and degenerative disc disease. Most experts agree that a backpack should weigh no more that 10-15% of body weight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents look for the following when choosing the right backpack:
- a lightweight pack that doesn’t add a lot of weight to your child’s load (for example, even though leather packs look cool, they weigh more than traditional canvas backpacks)
- two wide, padded shoulder straps; straps that are too narrow can dig into shoulders
- a padded back, which not only provides increased comfort, but also protects kids from being poked by sharp edges on objects (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack
- a waist belt, which helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body
- multiple compartments, which can help distribute the weight more evenly
Try to leave out all non-essential items laptops, video games, etc. Also, a trip to the locker as often as possible to trade out books will make a huge difference in the load.
One last thing, kids should be taught the proper way to lift a heavy backpack. As with all things (cardboard boxes with heavy items have taught us one thing) lifting with the legs, while keeping the back erect is the best way to lift a heavy backpack. This, along with strengthening abdominal/core muscles will reduce the potential for muscle strains and pulls in the back.
Just follow these simple guidelines and enjoy the school year!
If your have concerns about the healthy of your child’s spine I encourage you to come in to the Besso Clinic of Chiropractic in Stow. We use the most gentle methods to correct the spine. Also, we look for imbalances in the spine in many advanced ways: from the use of thermal infrared imaging to a digital posture analysis. We offer free scoliosis screenings too.
Oh, and make sure you bring your child’s backpack, with a typical load, so we can take a look.
Thanks for visiting our site!
Dr. Geoff Besso and Dr. David Yates