Dr. Amarpal Dhillon (Memorial Optimum Wellness Centre)

Children are returning to school this week and as parents, you need to ensure they have a healthy start! Improperly fitted and/or heavy backpacks can result in poor posture and back related issues which is why you need to consider the following tips.

Choosing a backpack. It is important that you choose a bag which is made out of lightweight materials such as vinyl or canvas. The bag should be equipped with adjustable and padded shoulder straps, as well as a hip waist strap and a padded back. The waist strap allows some weight to be taken off of the shoulders and be transferred to the hips. The top of the bag should not be higher than the child’s shoulder height while the bottom should not fall below the top of the hips.

Packing light. For kindergarten to Grade 8 students, the total weight of the bag should never exceed 10%, and for students in Grades 9 to 12, 15% of the child’s body weight. Spread objects in different pockets so the weight is evenly distributed. The heavier items should be placed closer to the body.

Wearing a backpack. Both shoulder straps should be adjusted until the bag feels comfortable. Using one shoulder strap is not encouraged as it strains the carrying shoulder. A hand should be able to fit in the space between the backpack and the child’s back.

Calculating your maximum load. Weigh your child and multiply their weight by either 10 or 15%. Then weigh your child’s loaded backpack. Now compare your maximum load weight to the actual load of your child’s backpack. If your child’s backpack weight exceeds the recommended maximum load, remove some objects and weigh the backpack again. For example, consider giving your child a lunch bag they can hold in their hand rather than putting
it into their backpack.

Alternatives. Your child can also try using a rolling backpack, however the maximum load should not be exceeded and your child should alternate the pulling arm.

Other health tips

  • Exercise daily (go to gym class!)
  • Eat healthy foods and stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Be aware of your posture – keep your shoulders back and try not to hunch forward
  • Stretch throughout the day
  • Sleep on your back or side, rather than your stomach
  • Stop using your computer at least one hour before you sleep to prevent strain on your eyes
  • Make sure you get enough sleep every night
  • See your Chiropractor regularly!

Book an appointment with Dr. Dhillon today by calling 403 273 1313.
Reference. Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors. Pack it light, wear it right! 2012. Web. 3 Sept. 2013.