As children return to school this January, it is important that parents look at the quality and fit of their child’s backpack as heavy, incorrectly fitted and badly packed school backpacks can lead to spinal health problems as a child grows.
Spinal health is crucial at any age, especially for children and items like heavy backpacks may cause strain and discomfort to the spine. Spinal & Sports Care, are Chiropractors in Castle Hill and Parramatta, and say ‘spinal pain can be attributed to a number, of factors but heavy and incorrectly worn bags may lead to poor posture, slouching and uneven hips’.
The relationship between spinal health and carrying a heavy backpack may also depend on additional aspects such as your child’s age and weight. If you’re worried about your child’s backpack weight, here are a few lifestyle and backpack modification tips:
What to look for in a backpack:
Make sure the backpack is the right size for your child, no wider than their chest and no lower than the hollow of their back.
A moulded frame on the back, that when adjusted fits their spine.
A bag made from a light weight material like canvas, with two padded straps.
Adjustable waist and sternum straps.
Separate compartments that allow for easy packing and weight distribution.
How to carry the backpack in a ‘spine safe’ way:
Ensure that the weight of the backpack is no more than 10% of your child’s weight when packed. Only pack essentials to lessen the load, perhaps use school lockers if available.
Pack the heaviest items closest to the spine and make sure all zippers are done up all the way.
Secure the sternum and waist straps (they’re there for a reason).
Always wear both straps. Tell the kids it’s not cool to ‘one strap it’ anymore.
Reduce the time spent wearing the backpack to no more than 30 minutes at any one time.
‘Another tip is to ensure your child is undertaking 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, as a part of correct spinal care’, says Spinal & Sports Care.
If you’re looking for a backpack that ticks all the boxes above, the Australian Chiropractors Association together with Spartan School Supplies have developed the ‘Chiropak’. This durable, functional and comfortable backpack is designed to reduce the incidence and severity of neck and back pain associated with carrying heavy loads.
Spinal & Sports Care welcomes parents to make an appointment at our Parramatta, Castle Hill or Wetherill Park clinics, before school resumes for more advice and assistance on selecting the right backpack and making sure it is fitted correctly to suit your child’s current level of development.