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Backpack

Backpacks: Choosing Wisely for Your Child’s Well Being

The Back-to-School sales are in full swing now, and it is time to be finding the perfect backpacks for your children’s upcoming school year. While your children are probably more interested in the fashion statement they are making, parents need to be concerned about the ergonomic value of their choice. Students sometimes carry their entire locker contents on their backs every day. This frequently leads to neck and back issues as well as muscle and joint strains, especially if not carried correctly.

 

Sizing

The most important key is to choose backpacks with the right fit. Good quality backpacks use “torso length” as a sizing tool. The bag should cover your child’s torso length from the shoulder straps to the bottom of the bag. To determine this length, measure your child’s back from his C7 vertebra (the bone that sticks out when you bend your neck forward) down to the top of his hip bones (approximately waist level). If the backpack tags do not tell you the torso length, you may need to bring a tape measure with you to the store. (The torso length does not necessarily correspond with a child’s height. A tall person can have a short torso length and vice versa. Some backpacks may have an adjustable torso length; others are fixed.)

 

The width of the backpack is also important. The backpack should not be wider than your child’s back. Click this link for a chart which gives general guidelines for sizes vs. age. Remember, however, that each body is different, and children do not all grow at the same pace.

 

 

Style

The next key to good backpacks is the style. They should have broad shoulder straps with good padding. Be sure the pack has straps for both shoulders so that the weight can be distributed evenly on both sides of the body. You also want to see that the weight inside the pack is evenly distributed. Choosing one with lots of dividers, pockets, and extra compartments will keep the contents stationary and well balanced and will also make the load feel lighter.

 

 

Loading

The total weight of a filled backpack should not exceed 15% of your child’s weight. For example, a 60 lb. child should not carry a load of more than 9 lbs. (For small children, 10% of their weight should be the upper limit.) If you see your child bending forward when he is wearing his backpack, it is overloaded.

 

Where each item is placed in the bag is also important. Put the heaviest items so they will be closest to your child’s body; put the lighter items toward the outside. Use the various compartments as much as possible rather than dumping everything in the larger central compartment. It is a good idea when you go shopping to carry some extra items with you to put in the pack to see how comfortable it feels before you purchase.

 

Backpacks tend to accumulate junk from day to day. Be sure your child is cleaning it out regularly so that he is not carrying any more weight than is actually necessary. Each day have him take inventory to see what items he needs for that day and leave everything else out of the bag.

 

 

Wearing

The backpack should not go below the waist. Shoulder straps need to be adjusted to keep the pack close to the body and high on the back. Be sure your child is actually using both straps so that the weight inside is evenly spread to both sides of his body. A waist strap is also good to help relieve shoulder pressure and to keep the pack from swaying. Your child should use this strap as well if his backpack has one.

 

Backpacks have become an indispensable part of school life. Choosing one wisely makes a big difference in so many aspects of your child’s school day. Wishing you and your children a great, pain-free school year!

 

Photo by Austin Nicomedez on Unsplas

teens-texting-with-poor-posture

Your Child’s Studying Posture: 5 Tips to Help Improve It

The school year is well under way by now. Have you noticed your children’s posture as they do their homework (or watch TV or play video games, for that matter)? When we are focused on the project at hand, we often do not think about our bodies. It is all too common to see children slouching, leaning against the arm of the couch, or propping their heads up with one or both hands. Children don’t see the long-term danger in poor posture, because they are not experiencing pain yet. It has even become “cool” to be seen this way and “uncool” to use good posture. All of this can make trying to change their bad habits difficult for parents. There are some things you as a parent can do, however, to help them with their posture.

 

  • Lead by Example: Show by your own good example what good posture looks like.
  • Show Them: A mirror is a great tool to show your child what his/her posture looks like vs. healthy posture. Have your child stand looking sideways into a mirror. Point out how the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle should be in alignment. How far from that is their posture? Which areas need the most correction?
  • Chair: The chair your child uses can either help or hinder their posture. The most important aspect of a chair is that it will allow his/her feet to rest flat on the floor while their knees are bent at approximately 90 degrees. This way their back does not have to try to balance with the weight of dangling feet. If all of your chairs are too tall, try putting a foot stool or wooden block under his feet. Back support is another issue. If the seat is too deep, your child is likely to slouch to try to reach the back of the chair. If you don’t have a chair that fits his body correctly, try putting a pillow behind him as he sits.
  • Desk:  Check the height of the desk he/she is using. Watch your child as he works. Where does the table meet his body? The desk tabletop should be at a level slightly above your child’s belly button in the middle of his torso.  If the table is too low, your child will tend to slouch forward while working.  If the table is too high, he/she will have to raise the shoulders (like shrugging) in order for their arms to reach their books and papers. This can cause overuse syndromes in the neck and shoulders. If the table is too high, try putting pillows under your child as he/she works. If the table is too low, try finding a lower chair to compensate. Then check to be sure this has not thrown his legs off balance. (See the last tip.)
  • Set Limits: What about the other activities—video games and TV?  Since most seating in our family rooms is not conducive to good posture, it is important to set time limits on these activities. Try limiting gaming to 20 minutes at a time. Set a timer; at the end of each 20 minutes, have your child get up and move around for a few minutes before going back to their game.

If you try these tips and still do not see improvement in your child’s posture, or if your child complains of pain, or has difficulty sitting still for longer periods of time, it may be that there is some underlying muscular tightness or weakness that is making it difficult for him to practice good posture. Dr.Marone can help in diagnosing the problem and help to get the body back to anatomical neutral through adjusting the spine and by recommending exercises for strengthening or stretching. It is this neutral positioning that puts the least pressure on the joints, reduces tension in our muscles, and optimizes circulation.

 

See also:

http://maronewellness.com/tips-healthy-laptop-use/

http://maronewellness.com/arranging-a-childs-computer-station-for-good-posture/

 

*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional.  Please consult your chiropractor or physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.