Its back to school time and here are my Top 5 Tips that every parent should know about back to school time

My Top 5 Tips for Parents This School Year

  1. Make Breakfast Healthy!
  2. Backpack Safety (more on that below)
  3. Hydration… and I don’t mean Coke!
  4. What to eat for lunch
  5. How much sleep does your child need?

A Little Bit About Backpack Safety

Is your child’s backpack causing back pain?

Did you know that carrying a backpack that is too heavy can increase your child’s risk of back pain and back pathology? With Back to School on your mind, be mindful of healthy backpack habits to help prevent back pain.

Having proper posture habits from a young age can carry your children far in life. Just as their diet, exercise, and sleep habits help them perform better and grow up to be healthy and strong, so does proper posture.

Your posture is the structural framework of your body. How you hold your body upright in space greatly impacts how you look, move, and feel. Help your child stand tall with confidence this school year with proper posture habits.

A common source of postural faults is backpacks! Let’s get to the root cause of poor posture from backpacks so you can help your child implement Healthy Backpack Hacks this school year.

Get the Skinny on Heavy Backpacks

Backpacks that are too heavy can cause repetitive stress and strain to the spine, resulting in postural abnormalities. It is NOT recommended to carry a backpack that exceeds 10% of your child’s body weight.

If your child weighs 50 pounds, their backpack should not exceed 5 pounds.

If your child weights 100 pounds, their backpack should not exceed 10 pounds.

When your child is wearing a backpack that is too heavy, they tend to compensate with their posture.

Have You Ever Seen Your Child…

  • Lean forward while holding their backpack?
  • Round their shoulders forward?
  • Do they shift their weight over one hip or the other?

If they do, this can result in postural abnormalities. Uncorrected postural distortion patterns may cause pain and discomfort or contribute to developmental disorders.

The most common postural distortion patterns associated with heavy backpacks are:

  • Forward head posture which is related to neck pain
  • Forward trunk flexion which can cause upper back and shoulder pain
  • Increased lordosis of the lower back that can contribute to lower back pain

 

3 Common Backpack Fails

Before discussing the Healthy Backpack Hacks below, what should your child NOT do while wearing a backpack? These are 3 common mistakes children make while wearing a backpack that are affecting their posture.

  1. The Shift
    Wearing their backpack over one shoulder so all of the weight of the backpack is shifted to one side of the body.
  2. Tech Neck Torment
    Texting while carrying a heavy backpack can really compromise your child’s posture because they look down and forward while texting adding more pressure to their neck and upper back while wearing a backpack.
  3. Heavy Loading
    Wearing an overloaded backpack with all of the child’s school supplies. By leaving unnecessary books and school materials in their lockers and desks, this can reduce heavy loading.

Healthy Backpack Hacks to Prevent Back Pain

Take care of your child’s back this Back to School season with these Healthy Backpack Hacks all parents should know.

  • Do not carry backpacks that are more than 10% of your body weight
  • Always wear backpacks with two straps over the shoulders
  • Pack heavier items such as textbooks closer to your spine in the back of the backpack
  • Avoid spinal twisting while pulling a trolley bag
  • Balance the weight of your body while carrying a backpack over both hips and both feet equally from right to left
  • Avoid bending forward to compensate for the weight of the backpack
  • Balance the weight load distribution by carrying a double backpack with weight in the front and the back
  • While walking with a backpack keep your head up and pull your chin back so your ears are aligned over your shoulders

 

References

Kistner, F., Fiebert, I., & Roach, K. (2012) Effect of backpack load carriage on cervical posture in primary schoolchildren. Work, 41(1) p. 99-108.

National Safety Council (2018) https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/child-safety/backpacks

Neuschwander, T., Cutrone, J., Macias, B., Cutrone, S., Murthy, G., Chambers, H., & Hargrens, A. (2009) The Effect of Backpacks on the Lumbar Spine in Children A Standing Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study. Spine, 35(1) p. 83-88.

 

Written By: Dr. Krista Burns (Co-Founder American Posture Institute)

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