Every year thousands of children across the country return to school in January and it is important that every year parents look at the quality and fit of their child’s backpack, as heavy, incorrectly fitted and badly packed school backpacks can lead to spinal health problems as a child grows.
Spinal health is crucial at any age, especially for children, and items like heavy backpacks may cause strain and discomfort to the spine. Although spinal pain can be attributed to a number of factors heavy and incorrectly worn bags may lead to poor posture, slouching and uneven hips.
If you are worried about your child's backpack weight, here are a few lifestyle and backpack modifications tips:
What to look for in a backpack
- Make sure the backpack is the right size for your child, no wider than their chest and no lower than the hollow of their back.
- A moulded frame on the back, that when adjusted fits their spine.
- A bag made from a light weight material like canvas, with two padded straps.
- Adjustable waist and sternum straps.
- Separate compartments that allow for easy packing and weight distribution.
How to carry the backpack in a 'spine-safe' way
- Ensure that the weight of the backpack is no more than 10% of your child’s weight when packed. Only pack essentials to lessen the load, perhaps use school lockers if available.
- Pack the heaviest items closest to the spine and make sure all zippers are done up all the way.
- Secure the sternum and waist straps (they’re there for a reason).
- Always wear both straps, tell the kids it’s not cool to ‘one-strap it’ anymore.
- Reduce the time spent wearing the backpack to no more than 30 minutes at any one time.
The ‘Chiropak’ is a durable, functional and comfortable backpack, developed by Spartan School Supplies together with the Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA). The backpack is designed to reduce the incidence and severity of neck and back pain associated with carrying heavy loads.
Find out more about the Spartan ‘Chiropak’ by visiting the Spartan website.
Good spinal care shouldn’t start and end with a backpack. Sitting right in school while learning and playing is just as important.
Check out the Sit Right page for tips on maintaining good posture throughout the day.
Ensure your child is undertaking at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, as a part of correct spinal care. Whether it is a play in the park after school, or a weekend sport, physical activity is necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
A wellness initiative of the ACA, Just Start Walking was developed to raise awareness about the importance of keeping active at all ages, with great tips and resources to get you started.
Straighten Up App
Developed by the ACA to help Australians of all ages practice good spinal health, the Straighten Up app can be used to set reminders and receive notifications about sitting right, stretching, improving posture and drinking water. This can be a great after school activity for both adults and children, or for older children to use throughout their day.
Download the Straighten Up app today.
Locate a Chiropractor
Make an appointment today with your local ACA chiropractor before your child starts school for more advice and assistance on selecting the right backpack, and to make sure it is fitted correctly to suit your child’s current level of development.
Visit Locate a Chiropractor to find an ACA chiropractor near you.