Choosing the wrong backpack or wearing it incorrectly can result in sore and stiff neck, back and feet which can ultimately lead to injury.
Studies have shown that the average child carries a backpack that would be the equivalent of a 39-pound load for a 176-pound man or a 29-pound load for a 132-pound woman.
Statistics by the American Occupational Therapy Association show that most backpacks are overloaded unbalanced and can cause damage to the spine of the child.
The following is a list of suggestions and recommendations about backpack safety that all parents of young children should be following:
-Make a checklist of what is needed for the day and leave other items at home.
-Make sure the child’s backpack weighs no more than 10-15% of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause the child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on their back.
-The backpack should never hang lower than 4 inches below the child’s waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on their shoulders, causing the child to lean forward when walking.
-A backpack with individual compartments helps in distributing the weight of the backpack’s contents effectively. Make sure that point or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on the child’s back.
-If needed, have an additional fanny pack carried in front for cell phones, calculators and other smaller items.
-Bigger backpack is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more the child will carry, and hence, the heavier the backpack will be.
-Ensure both shoulder straps are worn at all times. Carrying the backpack around by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms and low back pain.
-The shoulder straps should be as wide as possible and adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to the child’s body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably, thereby potentially causing spinal misalignment and back pain.
-Backpacks should be loaded with the heaviest books in first, and closest to the child’s back.
-Teach proper lifting techniques. Bend at the hips and knees, and then pick up the backpack, keeping the load close to the body.
At Alevia, we have seen several injuries from strain on the muscles and joints caused by not choosing the proper backpack or following the above mentioned recommendations outlined by the Canadian and American Chiropractic Associations.
Should you or one of your children suffer from any pain associated with their backpacks, please contact us to see how we can help. Call our Mississauga location (6750 Winston Churchill Blvd. Unit 107) at 905-785-9952 or Burlington location (1035 Brant Street, Unit 10A) at 905-315-9955