Backpack Basics

Summer is drawing to a close. Goodbye days of bare feet and beach attire (well at least on weekdays-–we do live in Southern California after all). It's time to go back to school. Heading back to school also means lugging backpacks, lunches, and often sports/band/extracurricular gear. All of that stuff can really wear students down! On top of that, wearing your backpack incorrectly over long periods of time can lead to back, shoulder, and/or neck pain. Improper fitting backpacks or just having too much stuff can lead to altered posture or gait. To keep your kids' bodies healthy, we have a few tips to help make sure your kids are wearing their backpacks correctly!

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  1. Pack only the essentials.
    Lay out all the items that you think you may need, and then decide what you can’t go without. Pack the essentials, and leave the rest at home. The ideal backpack weight should be no more than 10-15% of the wearer’s body weight. The smaller the child, the more important this is.

  2. Pack with a plan.
    When loading the backpack, distribute the weight evenly. Make sure the heaviest items are packed in the center to prevent slouching or tilting to one side.
  3. Adjust the backpack to the wearer.
    Make sure the straps are tightened so that the backpack is secure on both shoulders and rests on the curve of your back. If it is hanging down resting on your bottom, it is too low.
  4. Wear the backpack with BOTH straps all the time.
    This promotes even posture. Good posture is its own reward!
  5. Make sure it’s comfortable (and stays comfortable).
    Once a bag has been fitted, it doesn’t mean it never needs to be adjusted again. Throughout the school year, your child may grow and the straps may slip/loosen over time. Make sure to check the straps throughout the year, and note that the straps may slip/loosen asymmetrically.
  6. Minimize wearing time.
    If your child has access to cubbies/cubicles/lockers encourage them to use them! This can keep their bags lighter and takes stress off their spine.

Any other questions regarding spine health and backpacks? Feel free to reach out to us! Or come by, and we'll assess that your child is wearing their backpack correctly!