Previously Ottawa Holistic Wellness
back pack safety

Back to School BackPack Safety: Protect Your Child’s Spine

As the new school year approaches, kids and parents are starting to think about getting prepared for the busy time ahead.

Although necessary, things such as books, supplies, electronics, lunch boxes, and sports equipment can become very heavy once they are all jammed inside a bag.

Having a poorly packed bag can lead to neck pain, back pain and ultimately injury. It is important for overall posture and spinal health that your child has a correctly fitted backpack that is not too heavy is important. 

How to Choose the Right Backpack

  1. Make sure there are 2 adjustable straps with extra padding around the shoulder area
  2. A bag that has a waist strap will help to redistribute the weight of the bag from the shoulders to the pelvis area relieving tension on the shoulders
  3. Choose a bag with lighter weighted material 
  4. Make sure the bag has a pad or cushion along the part that contacts the spine
  5. Ideally, opt for a bag with wheels, then your child will not have to carry one all at all

How to Pack Properly

  1. Only carry what you need; the lighter the load the better!
  2. The total weight of the bag should never be more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight. To figure this out, multiply the child’s weight by  0.15. The bag should not be heavier than this number.
  3. When you are packing, put the heaver things towards the back, closer to the spine, and the lighter things closer to the front. 
  4. Use all the compartments to distribute the weight of the items in the bag evenly.

How should it feel?

Make sure both shoulder straps are adjusted and snug, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable. The waist strap should be at roughly belly button height.

Make sure the backpack does not droop below the buttock area. If this happens, it is too heavy! 
Also, avoid leaning forward when wearing the bag.

Making small changes now to protect your child’s spine can prevent bigger issues and injury in the future. Make sure your child’s backpack is not causing unnecessary strain so that they can enjoy the school year to the fullest.  

And of course, the same is true for you as an adult. Prevention is always better than cure!