Teach Your Children the Proper and Safe Way to Carry a Backpack

Do your children know the proper way to carry a backpack? Poor posture isn’t the only side effect to carrying a heavy load with uneven weight distribution; it may also result in the distortion of the spinal column, throwing it out of alignment. The result? Back, neck and arm pain, headaches, muscle strain…possibly even nerve damage.

Each fall, The Ontario Chiropractic Association encourages students to lighten their loads with their “Pack it Light. Wear it Right.” campaign. In addition to providing Ontario chiropractors with helpful literature for their patients, they also provide resource material for students and teachers.

Prevention is the key to ensuring students load and lift their backpacks properly. A heavy backpack carried on one shoulder, for instance, causes the spine to lean and puts stress on the joints and muscles in your mid and lower back. The added daily stress on your mid and lower back can increase the chances you’ll suffer from back problems later in life.

Straighten up! The two shoulder straps on your backpack are there for even weight distribution and should be adjusted so that the pack fits snugly. If your backpack has a waist strap, use that too. It will reduce the strain on your back and transfer some of the load on to your hips.

Whether you’re moving a heavy box or a loaded backpack, it’s important to always lift with your legs and bend at the knees. Avoid twisting your torso when lifting your backpack onto your body. Instead, place the pack on a flat surface such as a counter or table before slipping it on one shoulder at a time, adjusting the straps so they fit comfortably. 

Packing it right means packing it LIGHT. Children in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 8 should aim to keep the weight of their backpacks below 10 per cent of their body weight; older students are able to carry up to 15 per cent of their weight.

Get in the habit of carrying only what you need for the day and pack the heaviest items closest to your body. This way, the majority of the weight in the backpack is closer to your body’s own centre of gravity.

To learn more, visit Ajax chiropractors Dr. John Noble or Dr. Mark Fera at Ajax-Pickering Village Chiropractic, 8 Old Kingston Road, Ajax.

To book a consultation, call us today at 905-427-3202. For a full list of resources available from The Ontario Chiropractic Association, click here.