Autumn is almost here! With the changing of the season comes cooler weather, cozy sweaters, colored leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and back-to-school sales. As you pick up your pencils, scissors, notebooks, and glue for the school year ahead, be sure to monitor the backpack usage of your student. This is important for all ages, kindergarten through adult.
While it may not be the first thing on your mind, backpack safety is incredibly important. Students spend the majority of their school days, five days a week, carrying their book bags between classes. How does this affect spinal health and posture? Is there a wrong way to carry a backpack? How can I make sure my student is practicing healthy backpack habits? Let’s answer a few of those questions now.
First, how can carrying a backpack be detrimental to your student’s health? If the bag is too heavy or throws off your center of balance, then you’re more likely to strain your back muscles or misalign your spine. Here are four ways you and your student can stay safe when carrying a backpack:
- Select an appropriate size. The backpack should not be too big for the student, especially the younger ones. If the bag is too bulky and heavy, the student will have to constantly overcorrect their posture, which places unnecessary exertion on the spine and back muscles.
- Choose one with adjustable padded straps. The keyword here is “adjustable.” Size is one thing, but the straps that go over the shoulders, chest, and sometimes even the stomach should be snug to the student’s frame. Shoulder straps are often padded, which serves to protect your shoulder muscles and distribute weight. These features all alleviate the pressure on your back, protecting your spine.
- Use both shoulder straps. It may be tempting to carry your backpack using only one strap, especially when you don’t have to travel a great distance. Nevertheless, a backpack comes with two shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight between the left and right sides of your body. Using only one will throw off your natural balance. Constantly having to correct your posture to the right or the left is hard on your back and spine.
- Stick to the essentials. If you don’t need it, don’t carry it around. Extra books, notebooks, and supplies can add unnecessary weight to the bag. If you’re able, leave it in your locker, in the classroom, or at home.
Chiropractic care is extremely helpful in keeping your spine healthy and strong. Misaligned vertebrae can be corrected, but it’s best to practice preventative measures to avoid causing any permanent damage.