School is back is session and everyone is getting accustomed to a new routine. But, is that cool new backpack and everything stuffed into it too much for your child’s body to handle? A child’s backpack can cause instant — if not long-lasting — back and neck pain, headaches, fatigue, irritability and learning issues. Use these five tools to correct your child’s book hauler.
Weight: The backpack should be used to transport the minimum requirements. When fully loaded, the backpack should not weigh more than 15 percent of the child’s weight. That is the standard, but I recommend 10 percent of the child’s weight or less. Ten percent or less would be less likely to cause any harm, and gives some wiggle room if your child needs to stuff in supplies for that last-minute science project.
Minimalist: Your child is not going on an overnight trip and they don’t need to haul around nonessentials. He or she also doesn’t need a backpack with more than 2-3 pockets. While pockets can help with weight distribution, having too many of them can lead to a tendency to overfill the backpack with nonessentials just because there is room to do it.
Support: Your child’s backpack should have a shoulder strap for each shoulder and a pad on the back. Make sure your child is using both shoulder straps and that the pads are covering the shoulders. The straps should be tightened enough so that the backpack is not just comfortable, but sits at the mid-lumbar area, or slightly above the hips. The backpack should not bounce off the child’s back or bottom as they walk. If this happens, confirm that the backpack is the right size for the child and recheck that the straps are appropriately tightened and that the backpack’s weight is correct.
Test drive your backpack: There are many different styles and sizes of backpacks. Also, your child is growing. This makes a tough job for you. Take your child’s backpack home and have them use it for a week or two. Most stores, as long as you still have the receipt and there are no signs of wear and tear, will allow you to return and/or exchange the backpack. Don’t get stuck with something that is going to cause disruption with your child’s learning or growing body.
Teachers are your best ally: If you have attempted all of the steps above and your child’s backpack is still too heavy or causing discomfort, ask your child’s teacher what can be done to lessen the load. Your child’s teacher wants your child to be attentive, active and willing to learn. They don’t want students who are exhausted, irritable and in pain. A quick conversation could go a long way.
By Dr. Andrew Payne, contributing writer and owner/chiropractor at Lake City Chiropractic in downtown Acworth. Dr. Payne is an active member of the Acworth Business Association.