It’s that time again. Students are getting ready for the new school year. They and their parents are school shopping, and one of the key items on the list is a backpack. Whether starting kindergarten or finishing your senior year of college your backpack is going to be heavy. Backpacks are a concern of chiropractors because we see the damage from them in our offices. Unsurprisingly studies have found a link between backpacks and back pain, and it seems to be increasing in our youth. (Seriously, have you seen the size of some of their textbooks lately?) Despite our great access to information online or in digital forms students are often still asked to haul sometimes massive weight.
There are many things that you can do to reduce the stress on your self, your children or your students.
- Make sure the backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of body weight. That’s about 5-10lbs for most elementary school kids.
- The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.
- Buy a backpack with individualized compartments to positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your back.
- Smaller backpacks will not allow you to overload your body, and they will fit children better.
- Wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
- Wide, padded, and adjustable straps are very important to ensure proper fit and comfort.
- Be actively involved in your school and community. Encourage schools to adopt policies that limit backpack weight, such as using workbooks, books with DVD content, provide assignments online discuss options with teachers and administrators. Be creative, and understanding.