Although children are smaller than adults and their bodies are still growing and developing, parents tend to weigh them down with backpacks that are far too heavy and unbalanced. Lower back pain is the most common health issue suffered by Americans and in many cases, it all starts in childhood with those oversized backpacks. No parent wants their child to suffer, so listen to the advice of a Santa Cruz chiropractor when it comes to proper child backpacks.
Selecting a Backpack
The first order of business is to select a backpack that will be supportive and won’t put undue stress on any part of a child’s body. Child backpacks should be made of lightweight material and be proportionate to the size of the child’s body. Buying large backpacks with the thought of fitting more into it will only cause problems.
Look for backpacks that have several individualized compartments to help you balance out the weight effectively. Padded shoulder straps that are at least two-inches wide and a strap that goes around the waist are also features to look for when making your purchase.
Packing the Backpack
When packing the backpack, distribute the weight evenly and try to ensure it weighs less than 15% of the child’s bodyweight. If it is too heavy, the child will bend forward slightly to try and counterbalance the weight on the shoulders. The heaviest items in the backpack should be packed closest to the body and if it isn’t necessary, leave it out.
Wearing the Backpack
When a child is wearing a backpack the shoulder straps should be adjusted so that the pack is close to the body. This will distribute the weight of the pack evenly over the spine and prevent misalignment. It’s important that kids use both of the straps on the backpack so the weight distribution remains equal. You should also show your child how to bend at the knees to pick up the backpack and instruct them not to twist or bend at the waist while wearing it.
For some reason we don’t seem to think that children are at risk for the same types of physical issues as adults when it comes to wearing heavy backpacks. Most Santa Cruz chiropractors will tell you this isn’t true and that children can suffer from many of the same issues as adults. Regular use of a heavy backpack can result in:
- Back and shoulder pain
- Numbness and tingling in the arms
- Poor posture
- Reduced blood flow
- Headache and neck pain
- Distorted natural spine curvature
- Muscle strain caused by overcompensation
Wearing an improper backpack sets the stage for a host of physical problems later in life. If you’re not sure how to proceed or your child is already showing some of the above symptoms, contact our team at Sawyer Chiropractic Group today.