Backpack Injury Prevention: Keep your Kids’ Backs Healthy
School has started once again, and backpacks are full of books, lunches and school supplies. When choosing a backpack, kids want the coolest colors and designs, which is great, but parents should keep an eye on backpack safety. Your child wears a backpack day in and day out, and when worn improperly, a backpack injury can occur and damage the spine over time.
Health experts estimate that nearly 80 million kids suffer spine issues due to backpack injury. Here are some common mistakes that kids make when wearing a backpack.
Common Backpack Mistakes
First, parents must choose the right pack. A backpack that is too large for the child is not good. The backpack should always be positioned no more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
Second, never wear a backpack over just one shoulder. A backpack injury can occur and contribute to an imbalance in posture which causes spine misalignments called subluxations. These misalignments put pressure on nearby nerves to cause pain. Always choose a backpack with two sturdy straps, and never carry a backpack down at your side either. This contributes to the same imbalance in posture.
Third, the backpack needs to be at a proper weight. The backpack should weigh less than15 percent of your child’s body weight, so if your child weighs 100 pounds, the pack should not exceed 15 pounds. If the backpack is so full that your child has to bend forward to carry it, that is a sure sign of overloading. Place heavier items like textbooks as close to the child’s back as possible, and only pack necessities—leave the rest at home. Encourage your child to leave books in the locker when not needed, rather than carrying them around all day.
As with any lifting, proper backpack lifting is also key. Don’t just grab the backpack and sling it over your shoulder. Instead, bend your knees, and lift the pack with both hands, using your legs to lift rather than your back. Put one shoulder strap on at a time. The pack should have a snug fit but should not be too tight.
A great option is a backpack on wheels, so if your school allows it, get one.
You’ve done so many things to get your child ready for school—new clothes, new shoes, school supplies and so much more. Don’t forget to add a proper backpack fit check to your list. Have your child load their backpack, then wear it so that you can make the proper adjustments. Your child and his or her spine will thank you!