Back-to-School Backpack Safety!

While many of us have summer vacations and the Minnesota State Fair on our mind, it’s also back-to-school time, and children nationwide will be lugging books to and from classes, most of them wearing backpacks.

Most likely you have begun your back-to-school shopping.  Half the fun and excitement of the new school year is selecting new supplies and clothes, including a new backpack or bag.

It may be just another school supply, but unfortunately, they are a leading cause of back and shoulder pain for millions of school children across the nation.  As students gear up for back-to-school this fall, Caron Chiropractic would like to offer parents ways to help children avoid backpack injuries.

Over 79 million students carry a backpack to school each day. While carrying a backpack may seem harmless, it can cause painful back and neck problems for students who don’t pack or carry their backpacks properly.

The way backpacks are worn affects your health. The height of the backpack should extend from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist. It is recommended that individuals always wear the backpack on both shoulders so the weight is evenly distributed.

When a heavy weight, such as a backpack filled with books, is incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the weight’s force can pull a child backward. To compensate, a child may bend forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally. The heavy weight might cause some kids to develop long-term medical problems.

Kids who wear their backpacks over just one shoulder – as many do, because they think it looks cooler – may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight. They might develop lower and upper back pain and strain their shoulders and neck pain.

When worn correctly, the weight in a backpack is evenly distributed across the body, and shoulder and neck injuries are less common than if someone carried a briefcase or purse.

A backpack should never be more than 15 percent of your child’s body weight and it should not rest lower than the base of the child’s back.

Bigger Is Not Better!

Safety tips on how to avoid backpack injuries:

1)      Wear both shoulder straps evenly to properly distribute backpack weight.

2)      Get the correct size backpack for your child.

3)      The backpack should not extend below the lower back.  Bigger is not better.

4)      Lighten the load and put the heaviest items in the backpack first keeping them the closest to the body.

5)      Lift the backpack with your legs and place it on one shoulder strap at a time.

6)      Do not leave backpacks on the floor to avoid someone tripping on them.

7)      Choose a quality backpack that has wide well-cushioned shoulder straps with a lumbar support/padding.

8)      Talk to teachers about reducing the need to bring home textbooks or if at all possible, have an extra set for home use.

9)      If you are concerned about your child’s backpack safety, please ask your chiropractor to help fit your child’s backpack properly.