Sending the kids back to school is exciting for everyone at this time of the year. But it is important to be aware of what you are putting in your bags, children and adults!  Whether it is a backpack or a handbag, everyone should be aware of what is going in to their pack.  Carrying a heavy load on ones back or shoulders puts additional stress on the spine.  Add in the uneven distribution of weight with a shoulder handbag, or improper use of the backpack straps and the load can put an even bigger stress, resulting in poor posture.  As you might know, poor posture can lead to a disrupt in spinal alignment, muscle strains, back aches, headaches, neck pain, and even lead to some nerve damage.  Being aware of how to pack a backpack and how to wear a backpack properly, can help prevent some of these negative side effects of poor posture caused by an improper use of a bag.

When packing a bag, it should be known that the bag should weigh no more than 10%-15% of one’s bodyweight. Let me repeat that, 10% (for children under 8 years of age) to 15% (for children over 8 years of age) of your bodyweight!  For a simple example, if someone weighed 100lbs, the backpack should weigh only 10lbs.  The weight in the bag should also be evenly distributed across your body, so those shoulder bags are a BIG no.


How to find the right backpack:

  • Look for light weight material
  • Look for wide thick straps
  • Best if the straps and back are padded
  • Look for a bag with lots of pockets and compartments to pack smarter.
  • The bag should not hang more than 4 inches below the waist line, as recommended by The American Chiropractic Association.

Image created by Dr. Colin Wilson from Northern Vancouver Island.

How to wear the backpack right:

  • Pack heavier objects close to the body
  • Only pack what is actually needed for that day’s adventures
  • Adjust the straps so the bag sits close to your body and is flat (not too snug, you should be able to slide a hand between your back and the bag)
  • Wear both shoulder straps
  • Remember basic lifting mechanics if you have to pick the bag up from the floor to put it on. Hinge at the hips, use your legs and save your back!

A good strong healthy back starts the minute you are born. Be conscious of what you are putting in your children’s bags AND your bags to help keep everyone’s back healthy now and for the years to come.

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