Choosing a ‘Healthy Backpack’

August is the time when we start getting ready for our children to head back to school (I can hear the cheers from parents from here). A big part of that preparation is shopping for new shoes, new clothes, and school supplies and of course we can’t forget; a new back pack.

Back packs come in a variety of shapes, styles, colours and themes that can help them express their own incredible personalities. Throughout the school year they are stuffed full of note books, text books and electronic gear. As they slowly build up their workload we see them slumped over, lugging around half their body weight as they sluggishly drop their bags on the floor when they arrive home.

We send them off with healthy lunches and a belly full of good nutrients in the morning knowing the importance of nutritional health for energy, focus and strength both physically and mentally. Quite often, the importance of spinal health is accidentally disregarded simply due to lack education on the subject.

Good posture and body mechanics are essential in proper spinal health. It contributes to pain complaints or in symptoms such as ADHD, allergies, or decreased immune function. A heavy back pack can misalign the spine by placing abnormal stress on the structure and restrict the motion.

Here are some tips for you to keep in mind when you’re choosing an ergonomic backpack:

  1. A lightweight backpack that doesn’t add weight to what your child must carry. Keep in mind the material of the pack; canvas should be chosen over heavier fabrics such as leather. A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 15 percent of the child’s weight for backpack safety.
  2. Two broad shoulder straps with padding are better than narrow straps which are more likely to dig trenches into a child’s shoulders. Two straps distribute the weight of the pack as evenly as possible.
  3. Padded backs are a feature of better quality backpacks and a must for backpack safety. Padding makes the backpack more comfortable, and also keeps those sharp pencils, rulers, and book corners, for instance, from poking your child in the back.
  4. Waist belts are important for backpack safety, as they keep the weight of the backpack more evenly spread out, to prevent stress on any one part of the body.
  5. Lots of compartments are good for backpack safety, because these too, help spread the weight around, preventing injury and stress to the body.

So, as you’re waving goodbye to summer, drinking your (extra delicious) morning coffee and watching them climb onto the bus to start a new year of learning and growing you can rest assure that their back pack is not providing excessive spinal strain; knowing full well those complaints of too much homework have more to do with the work than the weight.