It’s that time of year again that children and teachers dread and parents anxiously await, yes it’s time to go back to school. Many we be out taking advantage of the back to school sales at your local malls and box chains. When out grabbing new clothes and supplies it’s important to be mindful of the back pack you will be sending your child off to school with. The American Chiropractic Association has put together a backpack safety checklist to fallow to assure that your child’s backpack is not setting them up for spinal conditions in the future.
Backpack Safety Checklist:
Is the backpack the correct weight? A child’s backpack should never exceed 15% of that child’s body weight so for an easy example a child that weighs 80 pounds should not exceed 12 pounds.
Is the backpack the correct size for your child? The backpack should never be wider or longer than your child’s torso, and the pack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
Does the backpack have two wide, padded shoulder straps? Narrow shoulder straps can place too much pressure on the shoulder region and actually compress nerves heading into the arms and hands causing numbness or radiating pain. Non-padded straps are not only uncomfortable, but also they can place unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles.
Does your child use both straps? Lugging a heavy backpack by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, low-back pain, and poor posture.
Does the backpack have a waist belt? Waist belts help distribute the weight more evenly and prevent as much swaying and shifting of the weight of the pack and its contents. Further more a weight belt will help keep the weight of the backpack closer to the body which will make the backpack easier to carry.
Are the shoulder straps adjustable? The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. The backpack should be evenly centered in the middle of your child’s back.
Does the backpack have a padded back? A padded back not only provides increased comfort, but also protects your child from being poked by sharp edges on school supplies (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.
Does the pack have several compartments? A backpack with individualized compartments helps position the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back, and try to place the heaviest items closet to the body.
Source: American Chiropractic Association. August 17, 2006.