The strain of carrying something heavy, either as a routine or for a short moment, is usually felt by a person at certain parts of the body, depending on where the pressure is accumulating. Heavy backpacks are not an exception. The use of heavy backpacks is responsible for back pain, neck and shoulder discomfort, and of course, increased fatigue.
Backpacks are of different shapes, sizes, colors and fabrics. They are used by all-soldiers, children, professors, and students. Aside from storing school items, children use them to express their sense of style. However, comfort and health need to be considered more than style.
In recent times, complaints about back pains by school children have become a growing concern. Healthcare practitioners and parents alike are not left out. Military personnels, labourers, and school children alike carry backpacks daily.
Since children spend a considerable amount of time in school, creating a safe environment for them is important. Regulating the weight of their backpacks should also be put into great consideration.
Now that schools are opening after a long period of lockdown, everyone is looking out for the immunity of their children. Looking out for the physiological health of your child is also very important.
What is the use of a healthy immune system if so much pressure and stress is put on the body? Just as you are trying to boost your child’s immunity, conscious efforts should be made on easing your child’s backpack.
Measures need to put in place to orientate high school and middle school students on the need to organize themselves. This means they need to follow the school time-table when they are taking their books to school; they should be made to understand that they are meant to carry only the books they need per day.
Out of all the different ways to carry school materials, such as shoulder bags, wheeled bags, handbags, and so on, backpacks are the most popular of all the bag types. The reason for this, is that compared to other types of bags, backpacks cause the most negative physiological changes.
Also, backpacks tend to give the most pressure in the muscle activities between the left and right sides of the trunk. A heavy backpack will increase the chances of the child having a decrease in the natural curvatures on the spine, leading to upper back rounding and a forward head posture due to a conditioned force by the weight of a heavy back, where the chin is then shifted upward.
A heavy backpack can lead to bad posture in your children. When a child slings one hand of the backpack against the shoulder, it causes muscular imbalance. It is important, therefore, to understand that there is a relationship between your child’s school backpack weight and his/her health. Below, you’ll find useful information regarding back to school backpack safety tips.
How Much Should A Backpack Weigh For School?
This is a common question amongst concerned parents of children who carry backpacks to school. To gauge the weight of a backpack and how much it should be, varies from one individual to another.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ has made the recommendation that the backpack that your child wears to school should not exceed more than 10-15 percent of their own body weight.
For instance, people that are new at hiking, it is advised that they keep their backpacks as light as possible. This is because it will be easy for them to cover much distance without stress on the back.
Here are some back to school backpack safety tips that need to be put into consideration to control the weight of your child’s backpack:
1. Choose a lightweight backpack with two wide straps: A backpack with thin strips will ruffle your child’s wear and dig into the shoulders. When it digs into the shoulders it disrupts blood circulation, causing shoulder pain.
2. Choose a padded bag: A padded bag is best for your child’s back.
3. Get a backpack with multiple pockets: This will allow for even distribution of weight.
4. Encourage your children to wear both straps of the backpack: This is important so that there won’t be much weight on the shoulder that might lead to muscular imbalances. If a child carries a backpack on one shoulder, he/she tends to bend to the opposite side to cover up for the extra- weight. This is known to cause shoulder damage plus deformities.
5. Look for a backpack with a waist belt: A backpack with waist belt helps to distribute weight evenly across the body.
6. Get a backpack with multiple compartments: This would enable the contents in the bag to be evenly spread.
7. Try getting a pack with wheels: A wheeling backpack is a good alternative, but some schools don’t allow it because of tripping and falling. So, you should check with the school laws before buying one for your child.
8. Plan ahead: It is good to have a school timetable for the week so your child won’t have all their school books and other unnecessary items at once in their bags.
9. Pick your backpack up properly: Like other heavy loads, bend at the knees when lifting your backpack to your shoulder. Children should be taught these things for the sake of their bone and muscle health.
10. Use your bathroom scale to weigh your child’s backpack: To know the weight your backpack can carry, check your child’s weight with the bathroom scale. Physiologists recommend that people should not carry more than 10-15 percent of their body weight in their packs.
11. Keep heavier items in side pockets: The heavier items should be kept at the side-pockets of the bag and not close to your child’s back.
12. Encourage orderliness: You need to teach your child how to organize their backpack. They should be able to discern the important items from the unimportant ones.
13. Choose alternatives to large textbooks: Instead of carrying big textbooks around, your child can opt for A CD version of the textbook. And in this era of massive online storage systems, they can download required materials and save them on their online storage drive(s).
14. Inspect your child’s backpack daily: It should be made a point of duty to inspect your child’s bag regularly to check if it’s too heavy. You can talk to your child’s teacher on the books that are necessary to be carried daily. A child may not bring to your attention to how heavy the backpack is. It is your responsibility to observe and do the needful kid backpack inspection for the comfort and safety of your child.
Effects Of Carrying Heavy Backpacks
As a child progresses academically, there is a tendency that they might need more school materials. This means more books. Heavy backpacks will not only affect your child in the present but also on the long run.
Bad posture is one of the things that your child will have to suffer from if not checked because the muscles will become fatigued and imbalanced as a result of carrying heavy backpacks.
For smaller children, there is a risk of falling. Small-statured children must find backpacks that fit their size. You really don’t want to see your child trudging along with a backpack with so much difficulty.
For oversized children, there is an increased risk of injury. This is as a result of the stress they already have on their muscles and joints as overweight children.
When your child wears his/her backpack on one shoulder, the child tends to shift or bend to one side to bear the weight leading to discomfort. There are other forms of physiological stress that your child could suffer if backpack weight is not controlled. Some of the effects of carrying heavy backpacks include:
- Pain in the spine
- Back injuries
- Muscle Spasms
- Red Marks on shoulder(s)
- Tingling pain and numbness of the shoulder down to the arm
Being a formative period for your child, heavy backpacks can affect the growth and development of your child.
Other health dangers of heavy backpacks are:
- It can lead to bodily injuries: A heavy backpack is dangerous for a child that might be climbing the stairs. This can make a child trip, leading to bodily injuries.
- The pectoralis muscles become tightened:The long term effects can be seen in a forward head and rounded shoulder. As a result, the pectoralis muscles are tightened.
- Lungs could be affected: Some experts have discovered that backpack weight has effects on the expiratory lungs in children.
- Heavy backpacks have cardiovascular effects: Expired air, increased heart rate, and blood pressure are experienced by children. Generally, walking for a couple of minutes with loads leads to an increase in metabolic cost, due to muscle usage.
- Change in posture causes an alteration in the gait of your child: The inclined body position and altered body movement daily would increase the stress on the back and leg muscles.
- Loss of water in the lumbar disc: Repeatedly carrying heavy backpack weight for five days a week accelerates the rate at which a person loses water in the lumbar discs. This causes it to shrink. Under mechanical stress, the disc gets damaged easily.
You can keep a healthy backpack lifestyle by utilizing any of the following alternatives below:
- Use the double pack: The double pack is carried on the front and back of the body. It has been shown to have a lower energy cost than the backpack alone.
- Use a wheeled backpack: If a wheeled backpack is allowed in your child’s school, then you should buy one for your child instead of the traditional backpack.
- Use hip belts: With the discomfort that comes with the weight of backpacks, the introduction of hip belts has been of help. Hip belts shift the load from the spine to the hips. This allows for improvements in musculoskeletal comfort. However, the certainty that hip belts would have effects on the gait of a person is still largely unknown.
- See a chiropractor: If you still can’t determine how much backpack weight is healthy enough for your child to carry, you should see a chiropractor. A chiropractor is a doctor of natural health with an extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system of the body. Aside from helping you determine how much backpack weight is healthy for your child, they’ll also help identify any defects that may have occurred as a result of carrying heavy backpacks.
How Heavy Backpacks Affect Children’s Spines?
Heavy backpacks are sure to cause spine strain, and it’s more excruciating for a child. The human spine is made up of 33 bones called the vertebrae. The discs between the vertebrae serve as natural shock absorbers.
Research has shown that heavy backpacks are responsible for compression of the spinal disc and increased spinal curvature, which is related to the back pain that children complain about.
So, the longer a child carries heavy loads, the child could experience stiffness, then problems with flexibility and motion.
It is not just the spine that is affected by heavy back weight. The soft tissue around it that supports the ligaments and paraspinal muscles are at risk. They are attached to the spine, so they suffer a reduction in the range of motion.
Just like people who engage in heavy jobs, your child can suffer tendonitis, degenerative disc disease, and back pains.
One should put in mind the knowledge that musculoskeletal systems of your children are not just developing, but undergoing rapid physical development.
If attention is not paid to your child’s back, they grow up having back pains. If your child is already experiencing back pains, it’s advisable to see a professional chiropractor. A chiropractor is the best bet to treat the source of the back pain.
Carrying heavy backpacks to meet a child’s daily school needs have been discovered to affect the different parts of the spine of a child which are:
Other negative effects of carrying heavy backpacks include:
- Development of kyphosis
- Forward head postures
Over time, it has been discovered that carrying heavy backpacks influences the curvature of the spine. There will be a change in the body’s static and dynamic posture when there is too much load on it, as the body tries to overcome the posterior shift in the center of mass.
Ease your child’s burden today!