As parents and children prepare for the end of summer and a return to school schedules, now is a great time to make conscious decisions that can help protect the ones you love most. If you are like us, your mailbox and email inbox has likely been jammed full of back to school advertisements trying to spur you into a last minute shopping spree of pens, pencils, highlighters, binders, notebooks, rulers, scissors, glue sticks, and so much more. With the lists of suggested back to school items at many office supply and department stores extending to multiple pages, it can be tempting to over-buy as an instinct to give our children everything we are told they need. While some of those items might be necessary, take a moment to consider the added strain which unnecessary weight can place on a child’s body throughout the school year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 10-20% of their body weight. For example, a 60lb child’s bag should weigh no more than 6-12 lbs. and for a 120lb high school student, 24 lbs is still the upper limit! Overloaded backpacks can contribute to back pain, poor posture, muscle strain, and can negatively impact healthy growth and development over time. The best way to check the weight of your child’s backpack is to have them step on a bathroom scale wearing the backpack and then again without the bag, subtracting the smaller number from the larger. It is important to check the weight of the bag throughout the year as school work and projects begin to be transported back and forth between home and school.
Limiting backpack weight can be a tricky task as the workload for students increases and heavy textbooks find their way home. One of the most basic ways to ensure that book bags don’t become overloaded is to buy smaller bags with multiple storage compartments, thereby limiting the storage capacity and evenly distributing the weight. Another thing to consider is that some textbooks are available online for free or for a small fee depending on the publisher. This eliminates the need to carry heavy textbooks to and from school. Parents should also encourage their children to use lockers or desks to store materials/items that are not necessary to complete homework assignments. A monthly purge of folders and binders also eliminates unnecessary paper weight and gives parents an opportunity to review schoolwork to check for missing/incomplete assignments.
Once you have ensured that your child’s bag is not overburdening them, it is important to check the way they are carrying the bag to make sure the weight is being appropriately distributed across their body. Bags should be worn with both straps evenly tightened, with the bottom of the bag at or above the waistline.
Despite all of these changes, it is still important to make sure your child is evaluated regularly by a chiropractor that has additional training in pediatric care. Specific and gentle chiropractic care throughout childhood can help ensure proper growth and development, strengthen the child’s immune system, and improve cognitive function! To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hannah for your child(ren) and yourself, give us a call at (810) 212-1200!