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Back to School

It's back-to-school time, and that means trips to school, scraped knees, books, backpacks, and school sports. The activity can be great for you and the kids, but heavy backpacks and bad posture can hurt your kids and their backs. Here are some things to keep in mind when sending your child back to school:

Backpacks and Your Child’s Spine Concern over children carrying backpacks far too heavy for their little frames has been growing over the past few years. Experts believe backpacks weighing more than 15 percent of a child’s body weight put the child at risk for chronic back pain, back and neck strain, inflammation, accidents and potential long-term spinal damage. Studies have shown that with backpacks getting heavier and heavier forward head posture continues to get worse. Poor posture leads to pain with the neck, trapezius muscles, and lower back. It may seem impossible to avoid aches and pains from backpacks but it’s doable when following a few safety tips!

Backpack Safety Tips

  • Always avoid bags or backpacks with one shoulder strap.

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. Even better: pick up a rolling backpack, if your school allows them.

  • Pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 15% of your child’s body weight.

  • Remind your child to make frequent stops at their locker, if they have one, to drop off books that they don’t need for their next class.

  • Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items close to the center of the back.

  • The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking. It should not cover more than three-quarters of the length of your child’s back.

Classroom Posture

Your child is probably sick of you telling them to stand up straight, but rest assured that you’re right to keep doing it. You can even throw in some more “torture by posture lecture” through talking to them about how they sit in their desk at school. Many children sit at their desks slumped over, looking down at what they're working on. While this may not always be able to be avoided, it is a good idea to get them to understand if they can limit the amount of time they do it then it will be healthier for their back and neck. When they sit in this posture for long periods they are putting themselves at risk for back and neck pain or discomfort – and they’re too young for that! To sit correctly at a desk they should:

  • Have their feet flat on the floor.

  • Keep their shoulders relaxed.

  • Sit with their back against the back of the chair.

  • Keep their ears over their shoulders and their chin tucked slightly down.

  • Keep any screens (or books) at eye level.

  • You have to remember that even young children can be negatively impacted by poor desk posture, so it’s never too early to give them this talk. You know how much kids love those

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