One of the essential elements of any back-to-school ensemble is, of course, a backpack. Unfortunately, in addition to carrying books and school supplies, backpacks are also a leading cause of shoulder and back pain for millions of kids and teens. As the students in your life head back to school, keep these tips from the American Chiropractic Association in mind to help minimize the damage.
Whether you’re choosing a backpack for yourself or helping your child choose the right one for heading back to school, the American Chiropractic Association offers these bits of advice to help you decide on the right one:
- Make sure it’s the right size. A backpack should never be wider or longer than the user’s torso, nor should it hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. When a backpack hangs too low, it puts additional weight on the shoulders and causes the wearer to lean forward while walking.
- Opt for adjustable straps. With adjustable straps, it is possible to fit the backpack to your body or you child’s body. Adjust the strap so that the backpack rests in the center of the back.
- Look for wide, padded straps. Only opt for backpacks that have two wide, padded straps. Unpadded and narrow straps are uncomfortable, and they place excessive pressure on the shoulder and neck muscles. Also, make sure that you or your child actually use both straps. Hauling a backpack by just one strap shifts the weight disproportionately to one side, causing lower back pain, poor posture, and muscle spasms.
- The more compartments, the better. A backpack that features a number of compartments rather than just one large section helps distribute the contents more evenly. Heavy items, like textbooks, should be placed in the compartment closest to the body while bulky or pointy items should be packed away from the body.
- Choose a backpack with a padded back. In addition to being more comfortable, backpacks with padded backs protect the wearer from being jabbed by sharp edges or points on the school supplies that are packed inside.
Choosing the right backpack is only half the battle. Whether you are heading back to school yourself or you’re putting your child on the school bus every morning, a good backpack only prevents injuries when it is used correctly. In addition to adjusting the straps for a proper fit and always using both straps, it is important to remember that a backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of the wearer’s body weight. This means that your 50-pound child’s backpack should not weigh more than 5 pounds.
Remind your kids to let you know if they are experiencing any pain or other issues while using or as the result of carrying a backpack. For severe or persistent pain, it is important to seek the assistance of a chiropractor right away.
At WellCore Health and Chiropractic, we offer comprehensive chiropractic services for both children and adults. If you or your child is experiencing backpack-related back pain or you would like help choosing the right backpack, please contact us today by calling 503-648-6997.