Does this look familiar? Kids these days are being loaded up with backpacks full of books, laptops and sports gear and their posture is suffering badly. The weight is far too much to be carting around, especially when the straps are too loose and, more often than not, the weight is sitting down near the hips not on the upper back. The result is that the child leans forward to compensate, chin thrust forwards, in a posture that is only reinforced by hours slumped over a computer or looking at a mobile phone.
How can we fix this? There are some very simple steps including limiting the weight, putting heavy items close to the body, adjusting the straps, only carrying the essentials, use a bag on wheels, photograph relevant pages from textbooks and email home rather than carry the whole book. See below for relevant information.
The other perfect way to combat hunched posture is to do physie. The exercises taught at physie strengthen core muscles and create a strong, straight back from a very early age. You can always tell a physie girl from the way she stands and this is because of the training in standing and floor exercises that prepare her for dancing and also for life.
Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students from the American Occupational Therapy Association Inc.
Pack It Light, Wear It Right
|Aching back and shoulders
|Does your child have these symptoms after wearing a heavy school backpack? Carrying too much weight in a pack or wearing it the wrong way can lead to pain and strain.
Parents can take steps to help children load and wear backpacks the right way to avoid health problems.
|Loading a pack:
- Never let a child carry more than 15% of his or her body weight. This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than 15 pounds.
- Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack).
- Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
- Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary to the day’s activities.
- On days the backpack is too loaded, your child can hand carry a book or other item.
- If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.
|Wearing a pack:
- Both shoulder straps should always be worn. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
- Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
- Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
- Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
- The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
- School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your child’s back as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.