It's that time of the year again, time to go back to school shopping. As another summer comes to an end and a new school year is quickly approaching, parents are beginning to prepare their kids for a successful year at school and this often means the purchasing of a new backpack. With so much to do in order to prepare for the upcoming school year, few stop to think about backpack safety for kids. Did you know that carrying a heavy backpack to school just may be causing health problems for your kids?
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, children between the ages of 5-18 account for 6,500 emergency room visits related to carrying a backpack that is too heavy for them. More research indicates that by the end of the school year, nearly 60 percent of all school-aged children will experience at least one episode of lower back pain. Backpacks that are too heavy are responsible for a significant amount of back pain from children ranging in age from elementary school all the way up through college. Common symptoms of poor backpack loading and carrying can include headaches, poor posture, neck pain and shoulder pain or stiffness. Here are some tips to help you pick a bookbag that won't harm your child's back.
Tips for Backpack Safety for Kids:
Make sure your child's bookbag is no more than 5-10 percent of his/her body weight. A backpack that is too heavy will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to better support the weight of his/her backpack rather than allow the shoulders and straps to support the weight. A bookbag that is overweight can be dangerous to the health of your child's back.
Compartments are key. Look for a backpack with compartments to effectively pack your child's bag. You won't have to worry about your child's lunch being flattened under their textbooks.
When packing a backpack, make sure your child places items that are bulky or pointy away from the back of the backpack. Pens and pencils rubbing against your child's back can lead to painful blisters.
Encourage your child to use both shoulder straps on their backpack, not just one. A backpack that is only supported with one strap disproportionately shifts all of the weight of the bag to one side of your child. This can cause lower back pain as well as neck and muscle spasms. Using two straps in key in backpack safety for kids.
Opt for a backpack with padded shoulder straps. Padded shoulder straps are definitely more comfortable, and they will not dig into your child's shoulders.
Shoulder straps should be adjustable. This can help you fit the backpack to your child's body. Straps that are too loose can cause your child's backpack to dangle and be uncomfortable. This can cause misalignment and pain in your child's back.
Talk to your child's school. If your child's bookbag continues to be too heavy despite taking every precaution to save your child's back, it may be possible to leave the heavy books at school and work from workbooks and handouts at home.
Talk to your kids about using their backpacks correctly. It may sound silly, but make sure your children know how to properly use their backpacks. Help them to understand why carrying too much stuffy or why only using one strap is bad for their backs. Children, who are educated about the importance of backpack ergonomics early on, can carry these lessons with them through high school, college and beyond.If you have questions about backpack safety for kids or your child has complained of back pain, contact a chiropractor today. Your child and family may benefit from chiropractic care.
Matthew Gianforte, DC has been serving Kansas City and Johnson County area focusing on getting to the underlying cause of diseases through a whole systems approach with Functional Medicine and Chiropractic. Stop managing symptoms and start treating the underlying cause of disease, thereby addressing our chronic disease epidemic. Connect on Facebook, and Google+. Visit http://lifeworkskc.com for more information.