Back to school means number 2 pencils, books, and most importantly backpacks. Although backpacks allow our children to carry all of the essentials he or she needs for school, it also may pose a threat to their spinal hygiene. All of those essentials add up, increasing the weight of the backpack dramatically. A child should only be carrying 10% of their body weight on their backs, but between books for class and sports equipment this number quickly rises. Our spine is made up of 33 vertebrae (bones) with natural shock absorbers between each one. When a heavy backpack is on, a child may be bending backwards due to incorrect placement of the bag. Because of this, we tend to bend forward at the hips or arch our back to compensate, unnaturally compressing the spine. This can lead to discomfort of the spine, shoulders, and hips. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following guidelines for purchasing the right backpack for your child:
A lightweight pack that doesn’t add a lot of weight to your child’s school essentials
Two wide, padded shoulder straps (narrow straps can dig into the shoulders)
A padded back that provides increased comfort and protection from sharp objects in the backpack such as rulers or pencils
A waist belt which helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body
Multiple compartments also helping to distribute the weight more evenly across the body
Make sure to do your homework when it comes to picking the right backpack for your child and keep backpack safety your number one priority!