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A guide to wearing backpacks

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It’s that time of year again, summer is over and you need to start getting the children ready for another school year. This means buying new books, pens, erasers and the all-important backpack.

Buying the correct backpack for your child is important as when worn incorrectly they can cause neck pain, back pain, headaches, tingling down the arms plus increase the risk of developing poor posture and spinal wear and tear.

Backpacks come in many different styles, materials, shapes and sizes, so it may be hard to know what one is right for your child. Here are some simple things to look for when choosing a backpack:

  • Make sure the backpack is the right size – it should be no wider than the chest of the child who’s wearing it, no higher than 3cm above their shoulders and should not hang more than 4 inches below their waste line
  • Wide, adjustable and padded shoulder straps – this reduces the risk of the pack digging into the shoulders and impacting on the blood vessels and nerves around, which can cause numbness and tingling down the arms
  • Adjustable hip and/or chest strap – this is especially helpful with heavier backpacks to help transfer the weight off the shoulders and distribute it in other areas. It also helps to prevent the backpack from bouncing or shifting.
  • Padded back – a padded back is more comfortable and prevents sharp edges from things inside the bag from poking the child
  • Lightweight material – If the backpack is made out of lighter material it isn’t going to be as heavy to carry.
  • Multiple compartments – this helps to better distribute the weight in the backpack when it’s full

Now that you’ve chosen the right backpack, you still make sure your child wears it correctly.

  • Make sure it’s the right weight – When packed, the backpack should weigh no more than 10% of the child’s body weight
  • Load it correctly – When putting things into the bag, make sure that heavier items are packed closet to the child’ back and progress to the lightest things at the front. This stabilises their center of gravity and helps to prevent slouching, tilting to one side or even falling over.
  • Position it correctly – The backpack should not sit below the small of the back. his positions the backpack over the strongest back muscles
  • Tighten it correctly – Adjust the shoulder straps fits nicely in the childs back. If it hangs too loosely it can pull their center of gravity backwards, promoting poor posture and muscle strain.
  • Wear both arm straps –Wearing two shoulder straps distributes the weight of the backpack more evenly, this prevents the child leaning to one side distorting posture.

Monitor these – Don’t just assume that because you’ve fitted the bag once that it’s set for a whole school year or longer. Remember kids grow so you may need to adjust the shoulder straps

Dr Nicole Hudson

Principal Chiropractor | Connect Chiropractic

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