Back(pack) to School!

It’s that time of year again: the kids are heading back to school! With more and more emphasis being put on study and homework, there is a real danger that your children are being overloaded with heavy textbooks and schoolwork. Here are some great tips from the Toronto Wellness Centre’s own Dr. Jonathan Cartile DC to help reduce your child’s chance of injury from lugging their heavy bags around:
Get the right backpack!

  • Lightweight material (canvas as opposed to leather)
  • Two padded, wide (2-inches), adjustable shoulder straps on the backpack
  • Hip strap, waist belt, or frame to redistribute the weight of the backpack from the shoulders and back to the pelvis
  • Dr. Cartile suggests a smaller backpack: As we all know if there is more space in the bag then it will get filled and there is more of a chance of backpack being overloaded.

Wearing the backpack correctly:

  • Always use both shoulder straps and wear the backpack on the back rather than over one shoulder
  • Pack heaviest objects into the backpack first so they are closest to the body and lower in the backpack
  • Adjust the straps to fit the backpack snugly to the child’s body, holding the bottom of the backpack 2 inches above the waist and use the waist strap.

Correct weight:

  • Consider applying a guideline backpack weight limit as a percent of the child’s body weight. The American Chiropractic Association advises 5-10%. This is a growing and developing spine, so small mechanical stresses can have a lifetime impact.
  • If the child complains of discomfort, reduce the weight in the backpack immediately
  • Coach your child to carry only those books needed in the backpack, leaving unnecessary items at home and making frequent trips to his/her locker during the day
  • Train your child to clean out the backpack at least once a week

If needed, please discuss options with teachers and school staff about how to help reduce the physical load. Consider photocopies, online material or having the lesson plan allow for leaving heavy textbooks at one location (home or school). If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Toronto Wellness Centre!