Backpack Safety – Backpacks are something that everyone is familiar with and rarely cross our minds. It’s often joked about how to hold a backpack to be cool or how heavy someone’s bag is, but backpack safety is something that we should examine. This harmless tool could be starting a process that will only accelerate with continued use causing issues down the line.
A backpack is a great tool that allows our students to transport all their books, tools, and lunches with them without having to go to a locker every period. While initially a good thing, as workloads have increased, so have the weight of the bags. As student’s workloads increase, their materials increase as well. Along with reducing passing period times, many students are forgoing using a locker to use backpacks instead.
Why Does This Matter?
Heavy or improperly worn backpacks pull the body backward, causing an unnatural spine position. The individual arches their back or bends forward at the hips to compensate, compressing the spine to be comfortable. While this wouldn’t be a problem if it were every once in a while, this is something they face every day.
As this continues to happen, it causes an anterior shift in the child’s center of gravity 2.4 cm, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but the body will correct it by curving forward. While arching forward, the student’s head posture shifts forward, increasing the head’s weight by 10lbs for each inch! Something as little as a 20-degree curve increases the force on the spine from the starting 7.2x multiplier to 11.6x of the bag’s weight!
The curvature only happens when the child’s backpack is too heavy for their weight, causing them to compensate by shifting the weight around by contorting their body. The latest studies show that a safe catch-all is that the backpack is 10% of the child’s body weight. The only problem is studies show that between 85-100% of boys between age 6-10 and 87-95% of girls between 6-11 are using bags going beyond 10% of body weight.
How do we stop this?
While the only way to stop this would be to stop using backpacks at all, it’s not a reasonable thing to happen in the immediate future. Hopefully, with the advent of technology, one laptop will take the place of a large number of materials. For now, here are some tips to help mitigate the issues that backpacks cause and increase backpack safety.
Making sure to wear the backpack with both straps is the bare minimum to help with this. If only one strap is worn, it will cause the body to have to compensate both forward and to the side to counter-balance with the single contact point. Trying to place the heavier items closer to the center of the pack closer to the child’s back and having the backpack closer relative to the child’s rear will also help. Ensuring the base is at least 2 inches above the waist will also decrease the amount of significant weight the backpack has and lead to increased backpack safety.
Bells and Whistles
While possibly not the coolest trend, rolling backpacks take the entire strain of the load off of the back. Undeniably the best and easiest option, although convincing your child to adopt this may not be possible. For a middle ground, making sure that the backpack they have has wide, padded straps will reduce digging into the shoulders and make the bag more comfortable. A waist strap found on many hiking backpacks will also allow equal distribution of the weight into the hips rather than having it all on the shoulders and upper back.
Something simple in theory for backpack safety, but hard to continuously do is using proper lifting techniques. Keeping an upright posture, bending, and lifting with the legs rather than the waist and back is essential. It’s a general tip that everyone should adhere to, but especially the younger audience due to the weight percentage. On another note, if your child has to pick up and swing the backpack to use its momentum to get it up off the ground, it’s too heavy.
Don’t Ignore the Pain
Inevitably there will be times where the backpack, sitting at a desk for long hours, or just life will cause your child to be uncomfortable. Ensure your child lets you know that they’re uncomfortable so you can start taking steps to alleviate it. The longer it goes on, the body will begin to normalize it, and you never want to normalize being in pain. Be cognizant of your child’s backpack safety!
See your Chiropractor!
Neck and back discomfort is the bread and butter of chiropractic care. If you or your child is experiencing any pain search for a “chiropractor near me” or “chiropractor (your city).” If you live in Frisco, McKinney or surrounding areas then your local Frisco Chiropractor at Express Chiropractic may be able to help.
Keep in mind, even if you aren’t in discomfort at this moment but you want to start taking preventative action, chiropractic may be a good fit.
Here at Express Chiropractic of Frisco, we are primarily a maintenance and wellness clinic focused on helping you get out of pain and stay that way. We aim to make sure your body is operating at the best it can so you can do the things you need to! We’d love to help you on your health journey to figuring out what we can do to help you and your children.
We even have a certificate for $10 off your first visit, including consultation, exam, adjustment (if warranted), and a ten-minute massage from our licensed massage therapist. First Visit Discount
If you have any further questions about backpack safety or any other health concerns, you can contact us via telephone at (469) 362-5711 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.