It’s back to school time again! For some of us it is a time of celebration and for others a sad reminder of the end of summer. Here in New England we had a beautiful, low humidity summer – not too much rain and plenty of beach days.
As our kids go back to school it is important that we as parents are mindful of the potential stress an overloaded backpack can put on a growing spine.
Here are three tips that can be helpful when packing the kids up for the day.
1. Make sure that the backpack fits your child. It is nice to save a little money and recycle within the family, but please be mindful of the size of the pack. A good backpack should be no longer than your child’s back. A simple way to determine the correct size is to measure from the shoulders (where the straps would sit) to the waistline (about the belly button) and add two inches. The width can be measured from where the arms touch the body from side to side, adding an inch or two here is fine.
If for some reason measuring is difficult, here is a simple guide.
2. Make sure the fit is comfortable and weight is distributed evenly. Finding a pack that has a chest strap and potentially a waist strap can be helpful as well. We want to try to keep the pack as close to the body as possible. Using a waist strap can help transfer some of the weight to the sturdy hips and away from the shoulders. Try to load the heavier items (books etc.) closer to the body. Attempt to disperse items, using compartments if that is an option, to disperse weight evenly. Carry the lunch box separately, if possible, as this tends to be a bulkier item. Try to keep the weight to about 15-20% of your child’s weight.
An easy way to take some of the guesswork, and searching time, out of the equation is to look at something like Airpacks Backpacks. They come in three sizes and they will give you some help in finding the correct size.
3. Check their posture. Parents, as you are measuring, fitting packs for your kids, take a look at their posture. Do you notice that one shoulder is higher than the other? Do you notice that one shoulder blade sticks out further than the other? We always remind all our patient’s “Posture is the window to the SPINE”!
We can tell a lot about what is going on with our children’s spine by checking their posture. Problems, when caught early, can be easy to correct, but left untreated can cause a lowered state of function and spinal damage over time.
We are here to help! If you are just not sure if your child’s back is right, if you have concerns after looking at their posture, please give us a call. Dr Ryan and I set aside special times for consultations and would be more than happy to help you and your child so that they can start off the year right.