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Backpack 101 Guide to Prevent Injury

Updated: Apr 14, 2020


​The beginning of another school year brings with it a variety of emotions for both parents and children alike.The thoughts of what to order from School Dayz Café for lunch, or how you’re going to shuttle your young athlete from Wolves practice to dance class is enough to worry any Shelburne parent. While we at Shelburne Family Chiropractic cannot help with those decisions, we can at least help ensure that your young scholar is prepared to carry their books to and from school without injuring him or herself. It is important to ensure that your child’s backpack fits properly from an early age.If a backpack is worn incorrectly over an extended period of time, not only can they result in neck, shoulder or back pain, they can result in changes in posture and gait.

In conjunction with the Ontario Chiropractic Association, the Pack it Light, Wear it Tight campaign has helped countless students avoid musculoskeletal pain so that children can focus on their studies rather than nursing their injuries. The following area few tips for you to ensure your child is wearing their backpack right.


Choose carefully:Make the choice of a lightweight vinyl or canvas backpack to reduce the weight placed on your child’s back. Select a backpack that has two wide, adjustable and padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, a padded back and plenty of pockets.

Make sure it is the correct weight:Ideally, a backpack and its contents should be no more than 10-15% of the wearer’s body weight. This is especially important to consider in smaller children.

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.

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. For proper support, the backpack should fit securely on both shoulders and should rest on the contour of the back. If it’s hanging over the buttocks, it’s too low. It might take a few tries to adjust it just right.

Choose a bag with wheels and an adjustable handle when possible:An alternative to the traditional backpack is the rolling backpack, which is similar to rolling luggage that you use for vacations. Rolling backpacks contain two wheels on the bottom of the bag, so that your child can put their backpack down and wheel it around on smoother parts of their trip to and from school.The downside of this type of backpack is that they must still be carried up and downstairs and can be difficult to roll in the heavy snow of Shelburne’s winter.However, for children who tote a heavy load of books throughout the day, this type of backpack allows for decreased load on the back and a more energized student!

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!It’s a new year and let's start it off right Shelburne!

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