Backpack Posture for Chiropractic Health

School may have only recently let out for the summer, but before we know it, we’ll be back at the stores stocking up on school supplies, new clothes, and the hottest shoes. One of the most exciting parts of the new school year for students of all ages is purchasing a new backpack. Whether you have an elementary school student who can’t wait to pick out an Avengers backpack or a Frozen backpack, or you have a high school student who wants the latest, greatest, and trendiest backpack available, there are some things to consider when purchasing a backpack. It goes further than just what looks great, especially for the students that may carry a heavy load of books, binders, and papers in their backpacks each day.

While the type of backpack you purchase for your children may not seem to be significant, it’s very important to ensure that the backpacks they use are supportive and conducive to good posture and good spinal health. Unfortunately, heavy backpacks can take a huge toll on the health of the spine, even in the youngest students, as they cause children to walk or stand awkwardly to make up for the discomfort and heavy weight of their school bags.

A backpack that is too heavy can cause muscle strain, joint irritation in the vertebrae and rib cage, curve distortion of the spine, rounded shoulders, and imbalance, which can lead to falls. It can also pull on the neck muscles or cause spinal misalignments in the neck, leading to neck pain, shoulder discomfort, headaches, arm pain, and more. Young kids and students of all ages can experience back and neck pain brought on by a poorly fitting backpack or an improperly worn backpack, and the way they pack their backpacks can even have a negative impact on their spinal health as well. Take into account these tips regarding minimizing back pain from heavy backpacks and what to do if your child does experience backpack-induced pain.

Purchase the Right Backpack
Again, this may seem unimportant, but your child needs a backpack that fits him or her well and that provides appropriate space and support for his or her needs. While character backpacks are fun, most of them probably aren’t suitable for middle or high school students who will see an increase in the number of books they have to carry and the weight of those books. Be sure your child’s backpack has wide straps with substantial padding on them, and that the straps are fully adjustable and fit your child appropriately. Pick a light but strong fabric, such as canvas, and avoid heavier fabrics, like leather, that will only add to the weight your child is carrying. A padded back section is ideal, and a hip or waist strap can help distribute the weight more evenly. You also have to be sure that the bag you’re buying is large enough for your student’s needs. Bags shouldn’t be overstuffed as smaller bags usually offer less support, which could bring about more pain. For those students who have more to carry, try to find a bag with multiple pockets across the entire bag, including on the front and sides, which will allow for more even weight distribution and less discomfort.

Go with the Standard Backpack Type
While messenger bags or one-strap backpacks may seem cool or fun, they are not great for your child’s spinal health. Even if your student switches the side they carry their bag on regularly (which may not be likely), it can still cause unbalance in their muscles and spine, leading to spinal misalignments, uneven muscle tone, and back pain. If your child is interested and their school allows, choosing a backpack on wheels is even better than a regular backpack, since they roll rather than carry everything they need for classes and homework.

Encourage Proper Wearing of Backpacks
Just as one-sided backpacks can cause problems in the spine, so can wearing a regular backpack on just one shoulder. It causes the spine to lean to one side and brings about muscle spasms, muscle tension, and muscle strain, often leading to back pain in children that only worsens as they age. Backpacks should be worn close to the back, with the bottom being just above the waist and the top of the backpack just below the base of the skull. Kids seem to think that wearing their backpacks low, near their bottom looks cool, but it’s terrible for their backs and should be avoided. While you probably want to avoid invasive low back pain treatment for your kids, a chiropractor can provide natural, safe, and effective low back pain treatment to deal with the repercussions of carrying heavy backpacks. However, chiropractic care will only benefit your child’s back pain if they make the necessary changes to how they carry and wear their backpacks in order not to bring about the same issues again in the future.

Pack the Backpack Properly
One of the most effective ways to avoid back pain from backpacks is to minimize what goes in the backpack. Obviously, if a student needs to bring home multiple books to study over the weekend, that cannot be avoided. However, if they are skipping a trip to their locker to get to their favorite hang-out sooner, students should prioritize minimizing their backpack weight for the sake of their health. Of course, putting less in the backpack will help substantially, but whether it is packed full or is carrying only a few things, the way the backpack is packed is important. Heavier items should be put in the back and the bottom so they lie against the student’s back. Lighter items should go in front and on top, and smaller items can go in the side pockets to evenly distribute the weight as much as possible.

Clean Out the Backpack Regularly
Students should be encouraged or even required to clean out their backpacks on a regular basis, ideally weekly. Older students are especially notorious for hoarding papers or unnecessary folders and notebooks in their backpacks, which only adds to the weight that they are carrying around. Also, encourage your students to think through which books they need to carry around with them during the day and which ones they need to bring home at night. Keeping a list of what books actually need to be in their backpacks will help them reduce clutter and overall backpack weight.

Get Them Under Regular Chiropractic Care
Having your child visit a chiropractor regularly will help their backs, necks, and nervous system stay as healthy as possible. Additionally, if they do experience any back or neck pain, you’ll know they can have the problem area looked at soon during their next chiropractic care visit. Ensuring your child’s spinal health is in tip-top shape before the school year begins will help them deal with any heavy backpacks they might need to carry during the year and will keep them cognizant of backpack safety tips as well. If you suspect your child needs low back pain treatment or just general chiropractic care for optimal spinal and overall health, contact your local NCHS office. We have multiple locations across the area and our chiropractic care services offer you non-invasive, effective, safe, and natural relief from back pain, neck pain, and more.