As school heads back for another year it’s the ideal time to consider your child’s backpack. Is it fitted correctly? Too heavy? Could it be damaging their spine and health?
Our posture is affected by the size, weight, and the way we carry our bags. Research shows that school backpacks often weigh 15-25% of a child’s body weight. This weight is lugged around daily, and regularly carrying a heavy load strains the spine. A forward lean is often adopted in order to remain upright. A bag worn on one shoulder can lead to spinal imbalance. A backpack’s size can alter how the head sits on the neck. These spinal adaptations can trigger neck and back pain and headache.
The first consideration is the size and type of backpack. It should be appropriately sized for your child, and padded at the back. Next, the backpack should sit at the top of the hips. Hip belts help to distribute the load. Thick, padded shoulder straps must be worn over both shoulders.
Next is the load. Heavy items like textbooks should be placed at the base and to the back of the bag. Light items can be positioned at the front. If the bag and its contents weigh more than 10% of your child’s body weight, it’s too heavy. Discuss and decide what can be left out and make regular reassessments to ensure the weight stays low.
The way your child wears their backpack matters to their health. It’s important to get this right! If you’re unsure about your child’s bag, or whether they’re wearing it correctly, ask your chiropractor for expert advice.