With school starting this week, teaching children the importance of properly using their backpacks is key to helping avoid injury. Not knowing how to carry backpacks, as well as choosing the wrong backpacks have a direct link with back pain. It can cause muscle strains, headaches, neck and arm pain. Follow these key tips to prevent pain this school year:
Choosing the Backpack: Go for lightweight vinyl or canvas. Pick one with two wide and adjustable shoulder straps. Also make sure it has a hip or waist strap, and plenty of pockets.
Packing: Make sure your child's pack contains only what is needed for that day. Also make sure the weight is distributed evenly. For example place heavy textbooks closer to where the shoulder pads are, rather than on an outside pocket. The total weight should be no more than 10-15 % of the wearer's body weight.
Putting it On: Slip on the pack one shoulder at a time and adjust straps accordingly. If the pack is fairly heavy, have it already lifted onto a flat surface such as a table before putting it on.
Wearing It: Both shoulder straps should be used and adjusted to ensure the pack fits snugly to the body.
Fatigue: Ultimately what research into backpacks and injuries show, is that the most important factor is how tired or fatigued the individual feels when wearing it. The weaker the individual feels after using it for an extended period, is the biggest predictor of injury. This means even if one has a light-weight backpack, but it is worn for a long distance, there is still risk for injury.
'Pack it light and wear it right!'
Milner Chiropractic and Sports Injury Clinic