Backpack 101

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It’s back to school time! Whether your kids are excited for the first day, or already dreading the alarm clock, it won’t be long before they begin to come home with backpacks filled with books and homework. But all of that weight and stress of their backpack could contribute to back pain if not carried correctly. Read on for tips to ensure your child is carrying their schoolwork safely.

Pack it Light

Be sure your child is only carrying the essentials to and from school every day, and that the weight of the backpack doesn’t exceed 10-15% of your child’s bodyweight. Cleaning out their backpack at the beginning or end of every school week can ensure your child isn’t carrying around unnecessary items (including old lunches!). When it’s time to pack their bag, heavier items should be placed near the centre of the back, stabilizing the centre of gravity, which will prevent slouching or tilting.

Wear it Right

Despite how “cool” it may look to wear your backpack over one shoulder, this can cause strain to the neck and upper back. Make sure kids are using both straps, and adjust them so they fit snug and secure around both shoulders. When putting on the backpack, place it on a table or desk and have your child slip the backpack on one shoulder at a time, rather than slinging it over their back. When lifting the bag, use both arms and legs, and bend at the knees.

Check-in Often

            What looks comfortable for your child may not feel comfortable, so be sure to ask them if their backpack feels right. If it doesn’t, check to see if there is something that can be adjusted. If you can’t slide your hand between their back and the backpack, the straps are most likely too tight. And just because it fits properly at the beginning of the school year, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Continue to re-adjust the bag often.

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