When families head back to school, we often see that busy kids have very full backpacks. Full backpacks often mean heavy backpacks with uneven distribution of weight. This can result in poor posture and can even have lasting impacts on your spine. More than 50% of young people experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years, and research indicates one key cause is improper use of backpacks. So, pack it light and wear it right.
Tips for Best Backpack Use:
Choosing the right backpack: Go for lightweight vinyl or canvas material. Pick a pack that has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps along with a padded back. The pack should also have a hip or waist strap with plenty of pockets.
Pack it properly: Make sure your child’s pack contains only what they need for that day and that the weight is evenly distributed. The total weight of the filled pack should not be more than 10 to 15% of your child’s body weight.
Put it on safely: Put the pack on a flat surface, at waist height. Have your child slip on the pack one shoulder at a time and then adjust the straps to fit comfortably.
Wear it right: Make sure your child uses both shoulder straps and ensure the pack is adjusted to fit snugly to their body, without dangling to the side. You should be able to slide your hand between the backpack and your child’s back.
Prevention is key – Teach your child how to properly use their backpacks and help them avoid an injury. If your child is experiencing back pain, please let us know and we will schedule them in for an assessment as soon as we can. If you ever have any questions about your child’s backpack please do not hesitate to ask us or bring it in for us to check it.
Bonus Points: Morning Movement
It is always a good idea to start our day with movement, and that goes for our kids as well. A quick and easy morning stretch routine can help your kids feel ready for whatever the day has in store. As you just read, backpacks can cause aches and pains in the back, so here are a few stretches to help your child relieve some tightness and tension.
Child pose: Kneeling with your toes touching — or apart, slowly bend over and have your child touch their forehead to the ground. Arms can be by their side, palms facing up or extended in front of them with palms to the floor. Big breath in — inhale and exhale slowly.
Cat/Cow: Starting on all fours with the spine and neck in a neutral position, make sure the back is flat like a tabletop. Eyes looking straight down at the ground, inhale and drop the belly down, slowly lifting the neck and head up. On the exhale, left the belly and spine so that the back is arched like a cat, and eyes look toward the belly button.
Overhead stretch: Standing straight with your feet together, reach straight up toward the sky and overhead without locking your elbows. Hold for 30 seconds.Saddle stretch: Sit on the ground with your legs apart. The width of the straddle is up to your child — whatever feels comfortable and a little challenging. Once seated, bend slowly over the right leg, then to the centre and then over to the left leg.