It’s that time again! Parents everywhere are sending their kids back to school, and with this comes the excitement of new school supplies, new clothes, new shoes, and a new backpack. Every kid wants their backpack to be the most unique, the one that sets them apart from their peers. Kids look at style and design; parents on the other hand look at functionality and durability (you don’t want to have to buy two or three backpacks in a year do you?).
With all those new supplies, new school books, a lunch, etc, it’s easy to overload the backpack and not even know it. Kids will toss it over their shoulder, likely express a bit of shock at how heavy it is on the initial lift, but then think nothing of it. That’s where the danger lies, ignoring the pain that may come from carrying a backpack improperly, and going about the day without addressing it. For parents, it’s important that you look for key indicators that a child might be in pain due to their bag.
Signs of pain include:
- complaints of pain or discomfort
- visible changes in your child’s posture
- pain when removing or putting it on
- marks on the body from where the bag is
- inability to move neck, arms, shoulders and back through normal range of motion
Find the Right Bag
There are a lot of options for bags out there. Every bag is different and depending on the age and grade of your child, some will require bags with lots of pockets, while others will simply require the standard zipper compartment.
As a parent, it’s important that students at least try the bag on before purchase. Look how it fits their frame, and make sure all straps are functional. The kids may fight you on this, but make sure you talk to them about the importance of the using a proper bag and its proper wear.
When you purchase the bag, here are some things to look for once the student fills it for school:
The weight of the backpack: The bag should weigh less than 5-10% of the child’s overall body weight. Heavy backpacks will cause the child’s upper body to lean forward to compensate for the pull of the bag. This strain is dangerous and over time can cause pain in a person’s back, neck, and shoulders, and can lead to curvature of the spine that will be a lifelong issue.
Size of the backpack: Rely on the manufacturer’s recommendation for the bag and size up your child accordingly. For smaller kids, look for smaller bags. There is no one size fits all when it comes to bags for school. Shop smart!
How the weight is distributed: Heavy books should be closer to the body and then decrease in weight the further away from the body you go. Keep in mind, too, that if you pack anything on the left or right side of the bag, it will also create an imbalance in the shoulder weight if not done properly.
Backpack straps: Be sure the straps on your child’s bag are padded on the shoulders. This padding will reduce the pressure on the shoulders. Stay away from thin straps because those tend to dig into a child’s shoulders and will cause them discomfort.
Proper Wear: All backpacks should be worn the way they were intended. Placing the bag on one shoulder, or wearing it too low on your back can cause pain and long term damage to your spine.
If you’re experiencing pain and would like a professional opinion/assessment then sign-up for a FREE Pain Assessment. We will then contact you to schedule an appointment for you to come in and have someone take a look. Our goal is to get you healthy for life!