A child’s backpack can cause serious health problems if it is not chosen carefully and worn properly. Chiropractors and physical therapists have reported a dramatic increase in child patients who suffer from back pain that can be directly linked to the use of backpacks. There are many reasons for the increase in backpack related pain and discomfort. Some of these reasons can be directly attributed to the backpack itself, other reasons deal with image, work load and routine.
One of the most common solutions to solving backpack related discomfort is to adjust the straps of your child’s backpack. This is an easy solution right? But all of the adjustments in the world do not do your child any good if they are not wearing the backpack properly to begin with. For some reason the cool thing to do is to wear your backpack over just one shoulder. The problem with following this trend is that wearing the backpack over just one shoulder completely throws off the wearer’s balance because the weight of the bag is not being distributed properly. When a child is unable to balance themselves properly they must compensate by offsetting their weight to the other side of the body. When this is done, it can cause upper and lower back pain as well as strain your child’s neck and shoulders. It may also affect your child’s sense of balance, making him or her more likely to trip and injure themselves in even more ways. If you notice that your child is a one strap backpack wearer do your best to explain to them the reasons why they should reconsider and wear the backpack properly. If there is a waist belt on the bag encourage the child to wear this as well as it will further enhance the healthy distribution of the backpack’s weight.
Not all backpacks are created equal and therefore not all backpacks are designed with safety and comfort in mind. Backpacks with straps that are too tight or narrow can cut into the shoulders and interfere with the child’s circulation. Improperly sized straps can aggravate this problem as well as fail to provide adequate backpack support. When left unchanged, these issues with improperly sized straps can lead to a child feeling numb or weak in the arms and hands. The best ways to prevent these backpack strap related problems are to make sure that you only buy backpacks with thick and padded straps as well as adjusting the straps on the backpack to make sure that they are snug against the body but not so tight that the weight of the backpack is being supported primarily by the upper back or neck. Backpacks that are safe to wear should also be made out of a lightweight material that includes a padded back and waist strap.
Adjusting the straps of your child’s backpack for backpack safety is relatively simple to do but encouraging your child to establish the habits of safe backpack wearing can be very difficult. Remember that your child needs to wear both shoulder straps and that those straps should be snug but not too tight. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the child is able to put on and remove the backpack without difficulty. Remember that the tautness of the straps should be adjusted to permit free movement of the arms. When putting on and taking off the backpack remember to try to keep your center of gravity and use core muscles to stabilize yourself while you position the backpack in a well-aligned and symmetrical manner so that you can better distribute the weight of the backpack once it is on. Also remember that the backpack should not extend below the lower back.