Summer is upon us again, but that doesn’t mean children put down their backpacks when school lets out.
Often summer activities like camping, hiking, swimming and biking require kids to carry even more on their backs — and for longer. Making sure your child is carrying a backpack that is still in good condition and the right size is important to making sure the summer is full of fun, not back and neck pain.
If it’s time to replace that backpack, the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors (ACAC) offers these tips for choosing, packing and carrying a backpack.
1. Pick a backpack that doesn’t extend higher than the top of the shoulder and make sure the bottom doesn’t fall below the top of the hipbone.
2. Select a backpack made of lightweight material.
3. Shoulder straps should be at least two inches wide, adjustable and padded. If the straps are too narrow or unpadded, they could dig into the shoulders and muscles, putting strain on the nerves.
4. For added protection and comfort, pick a backpack with a padded back.
5. Make sure the backpack you pick has a hip strap/waist belt to help redistribute the weight off the shoulders and spine, and onto the pelvis.
6. Choose a backpack that has several individual pockets instead of one large compartment to distribute the weight evenly and keep contents from shifting.
7. Pack your child’s backpack so the heaviest items are closest to the body.
8. Keep the weight in the backpack below 10 per cent of the child’s body weight.
9. When carrying a backpack, make sure both straps are worn. Slinging a backpack on one shoulder puts a significant strain on the body and spine.