It’s that time of year again when our kids are heading back to school and we are getting back into routine.
Every year Dr. Ken and I field all kinds of questions from parents about what kind of back pack they should be looking at for their kids.
I though I’d give you some pointers on what to look for and what to steer away from when it comes to purchasing a backpack for heading back to school.

12% of Their Body weight or Less

The first thing you need to know is that no matter how incredible a new backpack is, never let the load exceed 12% of your child’s body weight. You might think that’s almost impossible to get to that number, but it adds up quickly, so make sure you do a weight check every couple of months to make sure they’re not overloading their growing spine.
We see kids carting many of the same things back and forth from school every day. Things they rarely use but it adds unnecessary weight to their pack. Make sure what’s in there, they really need that day. As the season’s change, do a regular back pack house cleaning. You might be surprised the gems you find buried deep in the recesses of their pack.

Here are Some Guidelines

What you’re looking for is a lightweight pack which is the same length as your child’s torso; no higher than the top of their shoulders and no lower than the top of their hip bones.
The shoulder straps should be at least 2 inches wide and adjustable with padding that does not cut into their arms or armpits.
There needs to be a chest strap and a waist strap. . . and your child needs to use them.
An additional feature is a pad in the back of the pack and choose a pack with lots of compartments so the weight can be distributed evenly.

Some warning signs that the pack is wrong or not fitting

If they are complaining about headaches at the base of their skull or neck pain or pain between their shoulder blades their pack may not be fitted properly or they may be wearing it wrong.
Another problem is if they have red marks on their shoulders from the straps or their shoulders are rolled forward with their pack on.
If their stomach is sticking out or they are bending at the waist to support the weight of the pack.
And finally if they are complaining about numbness or tingling in their arms and hands there is a problem.
If you notice any of these issues then there is a good chance that pack is negatively impacting your child’s spine and pelvis. With their growing spine this will only lead to bigger problems down the road.

How We Can Help

If all this talk just stresses you out let us take some pressure off. As posture and neurology experts our doctors at Lighthouse offer free posture and backpack assessments throughout the month of September.
So get your kids to load up their packs with what they would take to school normally and come in to the office and we’ll check out their set up. Sometimes just another person talking to our kids about their posture can help them take it seriously.
I can’t tell you the number of times a parent has told me that because I said to to their child, pay more attention to posture, their child finally listened.
Let us be that second voice in their head, because posture really does matter. As the old chiropractic saying goes — as the twig is bent, so grows the tree.
Give us a call at Lighthouse throughout the month of September at 250-870-9136 and schedule your children’s posture and back pack safety check up today. It’s free and it may have a huge impact in their long term health.