Back to school and back to backpacks! Backpacks can support or work against your child and their health. Your decisions about the actual type of backpack, how it’s packed, and how it’s worn all play a role in whether it’s working with or against your child and their health.
Your Child’s Spine
Your child’s spine is still developing. It’s always important to carry and move with proper body mechanics. It’s even more important to do so when the structure that is doing the work isn’t fully developed. The spine has numerous jobs. The better the spine moves, the healthier your child is because the spine protects and helps the nervous system function optimally. The spine moves better and stays healthier for longer when it carries weight the way the structure intended. Your child’s backpack and how they carry it is important.
Type of Backpack and How to Wear It
Choose a backpack that is carried on the back with two straps instead of a single strap over one shoulder, such as a messenger type bag. Pick a backpack that has wider (at least two inches) and adjustable straps. Carrying the pack on the back and over both shoulders does two things. First, it allows the child to carry the excess weight closer to the body. This provides less stress on the spine and allows the core of the body to take the brunt of the load, which is the proper mechanics for this situation.
Second, the two wider and adjustable straps, so long as both are over the shoulder, allow for a more even distribution of weight over the body. This allows for less stress; more areas of the body can handle the load. One area — one shoulder, for example — isn’t overloaded repeatedly with extra weight. The adjustability of the straps, so long as they are kept snug against the shoulders, allows for even closer carrying of the weight, which decreases stress as the excess weight is held close to the center of the body.
How to Pack
Taking a couple extra minutes to teach your child about packing the bag is wise. It’s simple — maybe not easy, but simple. Keep the contents as organized as possible because this helps more evenly distribute the weight. Put the heaviest books in the bottom or as deep as possible.
Carrying a backpack is repetitive stress to the spine and body that’s no different than sitting at a computer or lifting at work for hours on end. It’s an important part of your child’s developing spine and health. Paying attention to this and putting effort into getting it right will help your child for years to come.
At Port Orange Chiropractic, we care about your overall health. If you have questions about how you may benefit from chiropractic adjustments, call our friendly staff at (386) 761-0520. We look forward to hearing from you.