How to Choose the Right Backpack for Your Child

As you prepare to send your children off to school over the next few weeks, Ajax chiropractors Dr. John Noble and Dr. Mark Fera encourage you to use common sense when choosing your child’s new backpack for the school year.

Backpacks can affect your children’s health.

Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly or improperly distributed can result in poor posture; and even distort the spinal column, throwing it out of alignment. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage.

A heavy backpack carried on one shoulder, for example, forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the mid and lower back and may increase the likelihood of back problems later in life.

While we don’t often associate neck, shoulder and back pain with children and teens, we should. More than 50 per cent of young people experience at least one episode of low back pain by the time they reach their teenage years, with research indicating that the improper use of backpacks is one of the major causes.

If your child does complain of back pain, numbness or weakness in his or her arms and legs, it’s crucial that they get help to prevent future problems. Contact the Pickering Village Chiropractic and Massage Therapy clinic to learn more at 905-427-3202.

Does your child know the proper way to carry a backpack?

Prevention is key. Here are a few tips for helping your school-age children carry their backpack comfortably and safely.

Choose the right backpack

Leather may look great, but it’s far too heavy. Go for vinyl or canvas instead. Choose a backpack that has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, padded back and plenty of pockets. Make sure the pack fits properly, is not too snug around the arms and under the armpits, and that its size is proportionate to the wearer’s body.

Pack light — they’re not moving out!

Make sure your child’s backpack contains only what is needed for that day, ensuring that the weight is distributed evenly. It’s a good idea to know roughly what each item weighs. The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10 to 15 per cent of the wearer’s own body weight. Pack heaviest objects close to the body, and place bumpy or odd-shaped ones on the outside, away from the back.

Teach your child the proper way to put on a backpack

It’s a good idea to help young children with this, at least the first few times. Put the backpack on a flat surface, at waist height. Slip on the pack, one shoulder at a time, then adjust the straps to fit comfortably. Remember when lifting a backpack, or anything, to lift using the arms and legs and to bend at the knees.

Wear it right — make the backpack do the work!

Both shoulder straps should be used, and adjusted so that the pack fits snugly to the body, without dangling to the side. Backpacks should never be worn over just one shoulder. You should be able to slide your hand between the backpack and your child’s back. The waist strap should also be worn for added stability.

To learn more, book a consultation with Ajax chiropractors Dr. John Noble or Dr. Mark Fera at Pickering Village Chiropractic & Massage. Call us today at 905-427-3202.

With content from the Ontario Chiropractic Association