Shhhhh....don't tell your kids but it's time to start thinking about the right backpacks for school. The right pack in September can prevent all sorts of aches by December!
PACK IT LIGHT. WEAR IT RIGHT.
Kids and backpacks just seem to go together. Whether you are heading out on holiday with the kids or sending them off to school, chances are they’ll be packing a backpack.
You have your own load too, whether it’s a fashionable new purse or a suitcase packed to bursting. Knowing how to choose, pack and lift backpacks, shoulder bags and luggage can prevent them from becoming a pain in the back.
Our common-sense guide will spare your back:
Choose carefully: Go for lightweight vinyl or canvas. Pick a pack that has two wide, adjustable and padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, a padded back and plenty of pockets.
Pack it properly: Make sure the backpack contains only what is needed for the day or the activity. Distribute the weight of the contents evenly. The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10 to 15 per cent of the wearer’s body weight.
Wear it right: Both shoulder straps should always be used, and adjusted so that the pack fits snugly to the body without dangling to the side. Never sling a backpack over one shoulder. You should be able to slide a hand between the backpack and the carrier’s back.
It’s a fact! More than 50 per cent of young people experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years. Research indicates one cause is improper use of backpacks. So pack it light and wear it right!
Choosing a Shoulder Bag: Whether your bag is a purse or home to your laptop, choose one with a wide, padded adjustable shoulder strap.
Packing a Shoulder Bag: Divide the contents among multiple pockets to help distribute the weight and keep items from shifting. Your bag should not weigh more than 10 to 15 per cent of your body weight.
Carrying a Shoulder Bag: Don’t always carry your bag on the same shoulder, switch sides often so that each shoulder gets a rest. Try not to lift the shoulder on which the purse is carried, ideally wear the strap across your chest.
Nobody likes this word, but where you choose to do your homework can have a huge impact on your body mechanics. Choosing a better homework location than laying on your bed on your back or your stomach. Propping yourself up against the wall with a stack of pillows or sitting cross legged on the bedroom floor are not ideal locations as they will increase neck and back strain.
A desk, kitchen table, or the kitchen island providing your feet or your child's feet can touch the ground will make all the difference! If your chair can offer some arm support that would be helpful as well and if the back of the chair is high enough to rest your head back either while working or when you need to take a break it will go along way into easing neck strain.
Back to school often means new kicks for school. Younger children often require 2 pairs of shoes (1 for indoor and 1 for outdoor use). Older children and college and university bound students may opt for style over comfort. Whatever your stage of life, a little bit of thought in the design and structure of your back to school footwear can save you a lot of stress on your feet, knees, hips and back.
Look for runners or hiking shoes that are a little bit higher in the back than the front. A completely flat shoe should be avoided. Look for shoes that have stability in the middle of the shoe.
You shouldn't be able to ring it out like a wash cloth when you twist both ends of the shoe.
It should only bend where you would naturally toe off.
Make sure there is enough room in the toe box in width and depth to accommodate a foot and a variety of sock choices.
If you are still wearing sandals for the next little while, stay a way from flat sandals and ones that offer little to no support. Some of the same rules apply, choose ones that are slightly raised in the heel and provide strap both across the top of the foot and around the heel. Look for a sandal that you sit in that has a generous heel cup versus one you sit on top of when you are walking around.
Most importantly remember to have fun! Have a fantastic return to school everyone.
All the best, Dr. P.
Dr. Adrina Patterson, the chiropractor and owner of Kingston West Family Chiropractic, is an avid gardener. She loves riding her recumbent bike and travelling. She also enjoys continuously learning and improving her skills.