How to Avoid Pain & Injury From Heavy Backpacks
The back-to-school season is here, and along with it comes a sales spike in back-to-school supplies across the nation. Heavy backpacks provide a potentially dangerous situation. Pain in the lower back is the most common pain associated with a school backpack that is overweight.
Backpacks can be safe if worn properly. The ideal weight of a child’s backpack should be no more than 10 – 15% of the child’s total weight. You can get a good idea of the proper weight of a bag based on your child’s posture. Have your child stand with his or her side facing you without a backpack on. You should see the ear centered roughly with the shoulder. A full backpack should not change this posture.
Now fill the backpack full of books. When making adjustments to each shoulder strap, make sure that the bottom of the backpack falls about 2 inches below the waist. Ensure that each strap is relatively wide and that your child uses both straps. Avoid backpacks that have straps that go on from one shoulder to the opposite hip as this does not distribute the weight evenly. Utilizing one strap over the other causes that one shoulder to slump heavily when compared to the other shoulder. This is more dangerous than when a child leans forward at the hips to counterbalance a heavy backpack as this causes a sideward pressure on the spine. The end result of what you’re looking for is a full backpack that does not alter normal posture of a straight back. Explore the extra pockets of the backpack and use them as this helps distribute the weight the backpack more evenly.
If your child must carry a backpack that appears to be too heavy, we strongly encourage you to get a backpack that has a waist belt feature. Backpacks that are designed to be heavy often feature this because it transfers the weight from the back to the legs – a much safer proposition. This uses the same principle of why people should left with their legs and not their back.
Evaluate your child’s habits today, before it’s too late. If you or your child complains of back pain, don’t ignore or overlook it. Contact us here at Access to Health today before it becomes a chronic issue.
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