• Backpack Safety

  • Wearing a backpack that is too heavy, the amount of time carrying a backpack, the distance walked, inadequate distribution of weight in the backpack, and poor placement of items in the backpack can be contributing risk factors for discomfort, fatigue, muscle soreness, musculoskeletal pain (especially in the lower back), respiratory problems, and other issues. That’s why many health advocacy groups and professional associations recommend backpacks weigh 10% of the child’s total body weight.

    These safety tips help prevent back and neck pain while providing advice about packing your backpack and how to be a happy and healthy school camper.  While backpacks might not be directly responsible for spinal injury, they may cause discomfort, pain, and even scoliosis in children when worn incorrectly or when too heavy.

    Top Tips for backpack safety

    1. Choose the right size. The back of the backpack should fit the back of the child. So, the height of the backpack should extend from about 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist. Remember to change backpacks every year
    2. Padding. Choose a backpack with padding across the back of the bag and along both shoulder straps.
    3. Material. Material should be breathable, light and waterproof.  Leather backpacks might be trendy, but they also weigh more than breathable materials. Also, buy a weatherproof pack that won’t be weighed down or damaged by rain and other elements.
    4. Straps. Each time the child puts the bag on, they should loosen the straps to get them around their shoulders and then tighten the straps until the bulk of the backpack rest between the base of their neck and the base of their spine.  As kids get older, they haul heavier items, like thick textbooks and notebook computers. A hip strap is an excellent way to support your back by allowing your hips to carry some of the weight. 
    5. Compartments. More compartments mean more stuff. Young children should be able to get by with one main backpack compartment, whereas older children typically need more. Help your child understand the essentials that need to be carried daily, then pick a backpack accordingly.
    6. Heaviest items go in first.  The weight in the bag needs to be well-distributed, with the heavier items at the bottom and nearest the child’s back, and without having too much weight on either the left or right side of the bag.
    7. Wear your backpack only when needed. For example, if you’re waiting for the bus, take your backpack off, keeping it close to you on the ground or on a bench.

    Instilling healthy back and spine habits in kids

    We teach our children how to brush and floss their teeth.  It’s time we start teaching them the importance of spinal health.  Spinal degeneration/ arthritis is no longer a disease of the old.  The first place that arthritis sets in young adults and now children is the neck or the cervical spine.  Backpacks are not the only culprit. Long hours of sitting in front of the computer studying, playing video games, phone use has contributed to a rapid decline of spinal health, degeneration, migraines, back pain, neck pain, scoliosis just to name a few. 

    1. Proper ergonomics. Reminding kids to sit up straight is not enough.  Ensure that their desk, chair and computer is set up correctly.  (See picture)
    2. Create space in their room where they can use alternative sitting. Move from chair, to a ball to floor to kneeling. 
    3. Encourage them to take frequent breaks and stretch on a ball, lift light weights or hang on a bar.  All these stretches expand the chest, rotate the shoulders back and open the hips.
    4. Implement a spinal health routine before or after they brush their teeth using elastic bands for 6-8 repetitions.
    5. Lay down with a towel support under their neck off the edge of the bed for 8-10 minutes to reverse all the tension in the front of the neck from looking down.

    For more information on back pain in children and teens click here. For questions or phone consultations you can e-mail Dr. Amelia Mazgaloff or call Chiro-Health Inc. at (415)-546-1461 or visit http://www.chirohealthsf.com/services/. Stay up to date on the latest treatments that chiropractic can offer and the latest deals at Chiro-Health Inc, your San Francisco chiropractor by remembering to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, or follow our company profile on LinkedIn. Like always, choose chiropractic first before surgery and medication!