While kids aren’t in school at the moment, early practice is the best way to implement good habits down the road. When things get back to normal, be sure your kids are ready to get back to school in a healthy way. Use the time now to learn healthy habits while everyone is home.
We don’t often think about children and adolescents when it comes to back pain, but establishing healthy spine habits early on is essential. One of the first ways children can harm their spine health is improper wearing of a backpack.
Kids start wearing backpacks as early as 5 years old, often too big for their little bodies or weighted with far too many items in an incorrect fashion. The older they get, the more books are piled in there.
So how can we help kids develop healthy habits from the start? Here are a few ways to ensure optimal spine health when regularly wearing a backpack.
- Buy the proper size. Backpacks come in multiple sizes. Be sure to buy one that won’t overwhelm your child’s body. Preschoolers shouldn’t be wearing the same size backpacks as sixth-graders.
- Pack it well. Rather than just throwing random items in, think about how to weight the backpack correctly. Larger, heavier items should go on the bottom, building up like a pyramid. If the backpack has side and zipper pockets, equalize the weight by utilizing those spaces.
- Don’t overpack. It can be tempting to throw everything your child will possibly need into their backpack. Resist the temptation to overweight the backpack, which can put unnecessary strain on your child’s spine. Unpack and repack daily to remove items that are needed for the day.
- Wear both straps. Sometimes kids like to sling their backpack over one shoulder. As easy or “cool” as that can seem to them, it’s incredibly bad for the spine. To put all the weight on one shoulder puts all the strain on one side of the body. Anyone wearing a backpack should use both straps.
- Try to find a backpack with a front clip. Some backpacks have front clips to help even out the back to front and back of the body. These are more often seen with travel or hiking packs, but are great to have for regular, everyday use as well.
- Readjust the straps. Backpacks are made for all different body sizes. For that reason, they come with adjustable straps. Be sure to adjust the straps to your child’s body needs, ensuring the backpack isn’t hanging down, causing extra strain on the neck and shoulders.
- Take a break. When there is a chance to put the backpack down, store it in a locker and take a break. Backpacks are great resources but we don’t want them to be worn 24-7. Encourage your child to take the backpack off when they can.
If you haven’t thought about these things yet, no worries. It’s always the right time to adjust and create new habits. Help to prevent future back and neck issues in your child by implementing these tips into backpack wearing when school starts back up in the fall.