We can all remember the days when we lugged a heavy backpack on our way to & from school. Those text books weighed a ton! Whilst times have changed in some ways, back pain amongst children is still surprisingly common.
We often see children walking to school carrying their backpacks in the incorrect position. It is so easy to make slight adjustments that ensure a comfortable and pain-free experience.
Here are some top tips for avoiding poor posture and injury when carrying a heavy backpack.
Shopping for the Right Backpack
The best style to look out for is the ergonomic backpack. Look out for these features when shopping:
* Ensure the backpack is the right size. No wider than the child’s chest and no higher than 3 cm above their shoulders. A good test is to see if the child can look up at the ceiling without hitting their head on the bag.
* A frame which moulds around your child’s back when adjusted correctly.
* Adjustable and wide shoulder straps with padding for extra comfort. The backpacks with only one strap tend to curve the spine unnaturally – resulting in discomfort on the whole body.
* An adjustable sternum or hip strap is helpful for taking some of the load.
* Look out for separate compartments that allow packing & weight to be spread throughout the bag.
* Don’t buy the cheapest one! Buy one made of high quality canvas or other lightweight material.
Wearing a Backpack Correctly
The recommended guidelines are that:
A backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the child’s body weight. E.g. a child weighing 40kg should carry a bag only weighing 2-3 kgs, and 4 kgs at the very maximum.
* The shoulder straps should be adjusted so that the base of the bag is around the child’s waist (not sitting below their belly button). Ensure it doesn’t sit below the small of the back.
* Always use both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight evenly across the child’s back – as well as the hip straps.
* The bag should contour around the child’s back. It shouldn’t swing like a pendulum or hang loosely from the shoulders.
Explain to your child that wearing a backpack correctly will ensure more comfort – and will help avoid injury to their shoulders, spine and neck.
Every few weeks ensure that the bag is comfortable and set up the right way (as children have a tendency to change it!).
When your child gets home from school, encourage them to take off their shoes and play outside – this will help loosen up their bodies and increase energy after a day of sitting and carrying their heavy school bags.
Good luck, and if you’re experiencing any problems with back pain in your daughter or son, please do give us a call.