As children return to school this January, it is an opportune time for parents with school aged children look at the quality and fit of their child’s backpack.
School can be a challenging time for some children, so ensuring they are as comfortable as possible is important for their physical and mental development.
Here are a few simple and easy to follow tips to remember.
What to look for in a backpack:
- Make sure the backpack is the right size for your child, no wider than their chest and below the hollow of their back.
- A moulded frame on the back, that when adjusted fits their spine.
- A bag made from a light weight material like canvas, with two padded straps.
- Adjustable waist and sternum straps.
- Separate compartments that allow for easy packing and weight distribution.
How to carry the backpack in a ‘spine safe’ way:
- Ensure that the weight of the backpack is no more than 10% of your child’s weight when packed. Only pack essentials to lessen the load, perhaps use school lockers if available.
- Pack the heaviest items closest to the spine and make sure all zippers are done up all the way.
- Secure the sternum and waist straps (they’re there for a reason).
- Always wear both straps, tell the kids it’s not cool to ‘one strap it’ anymore.
- Try to reduce time spent wearing the backpack to no more than 30 minutes at any one time.
If you’re looking for a backpack that ticks all the boxes above, the ACA along with Spartan School Supplies and Macquarie University have developed the ‘Chiropak’. Find out more about the Spartan ‘Chiropak’.
Parents should keep in mind that it is ok to have some mild to moderate levels of spinal pain that is associated with physical activity – this pain is more often benign and self-limiting. Professional help should be sought if pain persists however.
Being physically active is good for kids’ health
Physical activity is a great way for kids to make friends and to develop physical and social skills.
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Children aged 5–12 Years recommends children should undertake at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity everyday. As an added bonus, this will assist in limiting their screen time as well. Use of electronic media for entertainment should be limited to less than 2 hours per day.
Finally, reduce diets high in salt, sugars and simple carbohydrates.
Your local ACA chiropractor can advise you on selecting the right backpack and making sure it is fitted correctly to suit your child’s current level of development as well as on healthy lifestyle management.
For more information on maintaining a healthy spine this ‘back to school’ season, visit chiropractors.asn.au/backtoschool
 Health.gov.au. (2018). Department of Health | Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. [online] Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines.