With only a week left before school starts, it’s a race to finish all that back to school shopping for clothes and supplies! But, the most important purchase is the backpack that your child will use every day and the proper way to wear it. There are over 40 million children in America who carry backpacks every day, but many of these students have an overloaded bag or don’t wear it properly. This can lead to neck pain, muscle spasms, tingling hands, headaches, back pain, and lead to poor posture and spine development. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were about 21,000 reports of emergency room visits for backpack related injuries.
But have no fear! The National Posture Institute has provided us with several tips for choosing backpacks and how to wear them; be sure to check them out below!
How to choose the right backpack:
- Choose a padded bag to minimize direct pressure on the back
- Make sure the bag is wide padded shoulder straps which will not affect circulation to the arms to cause numbness or tingling
- Use waist and chest belts to transfer weight from back and shoulders to the trunk and pelvis
- Multiple compartments to distribute the weight in the backpack
How to load the backpack:
- 15% weight maximum! Ex. A child weighing 100 pounds should not wear a backpack heavier than 15 pounds
- Load the heaviest items closest to the child’s back
- Pack items only needed for that particular day
- If the books and materials needed exceed the 15% weight maximum, use a book bag on wheels.
How to wear the backpack:
- Wear both straps at all times! This will evenly distribute the weight and promote aligned posture
- Tighten the straps so that the bag fits snugly to the child’s back, but still allowing the backpack to be put on and taken off easily. A bag that hangs loosely will strain the back muscles and pull the child backwards
- Wear the bag over the strongest mid-back muscles and make sure it rests evenly in the middle of the back where the center of gravity is.
Posture is impacted by a number of factors which can include great muscle control, strength, and flexibiltiy, so get your children involved in activities that promote good posture! Sitting is a significant factor which leads to slouching. Always make sure your child sits in a correctly sized chair. Try sitting on a physio ball while completing homework or working on the computer. This instability of the ball forces the core to work and promotes great postural maintenance.
If you or your child are affected by a long school day or being stuck in that uncomfortable office chair, try these stretches!