Selecting the Right Backpack for Spine Health

With school back in session, Dr. Taglio is here to help you keep your child's spine safe and healthy with the right back-to-school bag. She knows how important it is to Get the Right Back-to-school Bags For Your Child’s Developing Spine. Keep reading for her expert advice.

Yes, it’s that time of the year and back to school shopping is upon us. While the school supply list can be picked up without much thought, the backpack purchase should not be treated the same. We all know that when it comes to backpacks and school bags, being “cool,” is the number one priority as far as the kids are concerned. It’s all about the style, the design, logos etc. but what we must consider is that this is what they will be wearing on their shoulders and across their backs for the next year. Good spinal health must be taken into account when shopping for backpacks. We see many children in our office with early onset of back pain due to improper use of backpacks.Backpack_Pain

According to IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science, “The weight of a backpack and its contents can cause a person's posture to deteriorate. Heavy school backpacks may also deform natural curves in the back. If the curves are interrupted in the lower and middle back, the result is muscle strain and irritation to the rib cage or spine joints. Much of this suffering is brought on by bad habits initiated during our younger years may be because of carrying overweight backpacks to school.”

When Looking For the Perfect Pack, Consider the Following:

  • Check the Quality - High quality backpacks with good back support and an even weight distribution design will save your child’s spine over time. Consider purchasing a high quality ergonomic backpack, designed specifically with these details in mind (Land’s End and REI have some great options).
  • Check the Dimensions of the Backpack - not so big that it can be filled with all the unnecessary things (we all know how kids can be little packrats). The pack should rest evenly on the shoulders, the top of the pack should extend higher than the shoulders, fitting snugly against the body and sitting above the child’s lower back/hips
  • Shoulder Straps should be wide and thickly padded, reducing pressure on the shoulders and preventing stiff muscles. There should be an adjustable hip strap as well, to help with weight distribution and can be customized to the shape of your child’s body.
  • Encourage Your Child to Use Both Shoulder Straps - Carrying the backpack over one shoulder or using shoulder bags cause uneven distribution of weight on your child’s body making them stand in an awkward position with poor posture. Encourage the use of both straps and discourage the use of shoulder bags. Carrying all the weight of the bag on one side of the body will result in back, neck and shoulder problems.
  • Check the Weight and Pack it Right: The weight of the backpack should be no more than 15% of the child’s body weight. Heavy packs cause problems and cause the spine to bend over time. Heavier items get packed first, so the weight is closest to the child’s body.
  • Encourage Proper Lifting - show your child how to lift the backpack using both legs while keeping the weight close to their body, not bending over at the waist or twisting with their spine when they put it on.BackpackThumbsUp

Weekly Backpack Checklist

  • Each weekend, empty out your child’s backpack and see what they have stuffed inside. You will be surprised by what has accumulated, adding unnecessary weight.
  • Find out if they need to carry all of their books all the time or only on certain days.
  • Check the backpack straps for proper shoulder placement, making sure that the bottom of the backpack is 2” above the waist and resting in the curve of the lower back. If there is a waist-belt, use it to help transfer weight evenly from shoulders to the lower body.
  • Continue reminding your child that wearing the pack on both shoulders is important to prevent spinal issues later
  • Weigh your child’s backpack once a week to determine if it is within the safe range of 10-15% or less of your child’s body weight
  • If your child is not under regular wellness chiropractic care, check your child’s shoulder and head level at least once a month to determine if they are showing early signs of repetitive stress on a growing spine. (A Family Wellness Chiropractor who is trained to detect the early signs, can perform this exam.)BackpackJum

Make sure that you keep your growing kids safe and fit by ensuring their backpacks are not getting in the way of spinal development or good posture.

dr-taglioAs a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.

The opinions expressed here represent those of the author. California Family Fitness will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or exercise program.