With a new school year starting, safety is an important topic to keep in mind. Whether it is you, your child, or a loved one that is going back to school, making sure you wear your backpack appropriately can help keep your back in good shape.
Backpacks come in all shapes, sizes, fabrics and colors that help your child express their own personal style. They also come with a variety of different compartments that help your child stay organized while they carry around books, papers, and laptops from home to school and back to home. Backpacks are a better choice than shoulder bags, messenger bags, or purses because of your strong back and abdominal muscles, which support the weight of the packs.
When a backpack is worn the right way, the weight of the backpack is distributed evenly across the body. This results in less shoulder and neck injuries than if you carried a briefcase or purse. Even though backpacks are the more practical option, they can strain the muscles and joints and could cause back pain if they are too heavy or not used the correct way.
Problems Backpacks Can Cause
It is recommended by doctors and physical therapists that kids carry no more than 10%-15% of their body weight in their backpacks. However, many already carry more than that. When a backpack is too heavy and placed incorrectly on the shoulders, the force of the weight can cause the child to pull backward. To make up for it, your child might bend forward from the hips or arch their back which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally causing shoulder, neck, and back pain.
Many kids wear their backpacks on one shoulder because they either think it looks better or it just feels easier. By doing so, they may end up leaning to one side to offset the added weight and therefore could lead to lower and upper back pain and strain their shoulders and neck. Wearing a backpack the wrong way can also lead to bad posture. Younger children and girls may have a higher risk of backpack-related injuries because of their small size and may carry weight that is heavier in proportion to their body weight.
Backpacks that have tight, narrow straps can dig into the shoulders causing interference with circulation and nerves. This can lead to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.
Finding a Safe Backpack
Look for the following when choosing the right backpack.
-A lightweight pack: choose a pack that doesn’t add a lot of weight to your child’s load, such as a canvas backpack versus a leather one
-Two wide, padded shoulder straps: narrow straps can dig into the shoulders
-A padded back: a padded back provides extra comfort and protects your child from being poked by sharp objects that are inside the backpack
-A waist belt: this can help distribute the weight throughout the backpack
-Multiple compartments: this also helps distribute the weight throughout the backpack
What Kids Can Do
A lot of the responsibility of packing lightly and safely relies on your child.
-Encourage your child to use their locker or desk to store items they do not need at the moment.
-Remind your child not to carry around unnecessary items such as laptops, cell phones, or video games, as they can pack on extra weight.
-Encourage your child to bring home only the books necessary for homework.
-Teach your child how to pick up their backpack the right way. Your child should bend at the knees and grab their backpack with both hands.
-Have your child use all of the compartments, placing the heavier items closest to the center of the back.
A new school year always packs on added stress for any child. Adding the extra weight backpacks can have on an individual’s back can cause even more unwanted stress, causing pain on the neck, shoulders, spine, and back. If your child experiences pain in their back and shoulders, contact North County Pain Relief at (314) 731-4201 so our team of experts can help your child find the relief they need in order to enjoy their school year.