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It is back to school time, and as a school bus driver, I get to see many students with many different types of backpacks. From the simple book bag, to over-the-shoulder satchel, to the large double shoulder monstrosities, our kids lug them back and forth every day.

However, most parents agree that these cannot be good for their kids or their growing spines. However, school requires our kids take so much back and forth, what are we to do? HuffPost.com recently ran an article with some very helpful information.

The Proper Weight For Your Child’s Backpack

According to Dr. Saad Chaudhary, Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon and Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Had some great advice. The right weight for your child’s backpack should be no more than 10%-15% of your child’s weight. I don’t know about you, but I bet many backpacks are well beyond that! Consider that your kindergartner is probably 30-40 lbs, so that means the backpack should be 3-6 lbs maximum. Between a lunch and a change of shoes in the winter, it probably exceeds that, let alone anything else they need to truck back and forth. Goodness!

Choosing The Right Backpack

There are some things you can do to help relieve the impact of all this weight on your kiddo’s back. Not every backpack is made the same, or for the many different kinds of kids. The HuffPost article suggested: “It should fit their body size and shape well, hugging the contours of their back with maximum surface area contact.”

Additionally, here are some features you may want to look for:

  • Padded shoulder double straps to more evenly distribute the load.
  • Lightweight material.
  • A belt that connects across the chest and/or waist to help keep the load even (especially for older kids with a heavier load).
  • A bag with wheels to keep if off their back (especially for smaller kids).

Using Your Bag Properly

One of the ways backpacks can really hurt kids is when they use it improperly. How many times have you seen a kid sling the bag over one shoulder? How many times is that portrayed in media as the “cool” style?

Unfortunately, like many other products, when a bag is not used as designed, it can cause injury. For instance, not using both straps can cause the pelvic bone to shift, and cause lower back pain, and over a longer period of time (can we say 12 years of school?), scoliosis.

It is important to teach your kids how to use the bag properly to make it most comfortable for them, as well as help keep their body as healthy as possible.

Dealing With Occasional Back Pain

So what do you do to help your kid deal with the occasional pain associated with carting stuff back and forth to school? Sure, you could give them an over-the-counter painkiller, but that has longer-term effects on the kidneys and more.

Here are some things try:

  • Make regular maintenance appointments with your local chiropractor to ensure the spine is properly aligned and supporting your student, as it should.
  • Try using cold and/or heat compresses at the first sign of stress or discomfort.
  • Use natural anti-inflammatory remedies.

There are some great options we have found work really well for our kiddos. Want to learn a little more? Fill out the form below and I’ll send you some additional information.