A chiropractor’s point of view on backpacks. They are awesome. They are basically the motor vehicle of childhood, but they can cause pain.
They are a symbol of status, they are a way to represent your personality (Do you sling it with one strap like you just don’t care? Or are you a conformist two-strapper plus waist strap?).
Backpacks can also be a source of pain in kids, and I’d rather this not happen. So here’s some tips to prevent that:
Weight. Optimally, this pack shouldn’t get over 10% of the child’s weight. This is extremely hard with little kids who weigh next to nothing, when they have to haul around wooden blocks of book. The solution is minimalism. Only carry what you really need. If you don’t need to take home a math book, don’t do it, make arrangements to leave it at school.
Strap. I know it’s not cool, but two straps is where it’s at. Don’t be a victim of trends, set the trends. Putting all that weight over one strap all day will surely make your child need an appointment to see me.
Length of strap. The bulk of the weight of the pack should be at the small of the back or a little bit above. Long straps will make the pack dangle past the butt, which will cause the child to need to slouch forward to compensate — and we have too much slouching already in our Westernized lives. Too short of straps will also make the child need to slough forward to compensate.
All these tips are even more vital if your child is walking to school. Walking a half a mile with a malfunctioning backpack will definitely cause problems. Now, I encourage the walking. Don’t not do that. Human beings were meant to walk, on average, about 7 kilometers a day. We don’t even get close to that. I’m also an optimist who believes the chances that some kid will get kidnapped when walking to school are very, very low. I also realize that the chances that my kid will be overweight are very, very high — so I’m still a fan of walking to school at the appropriate age. Look at the big picture to get an more accurate perspective.
We hope your kids are healthy, happy, and full of so much energy that they are going to burst!
Dr. Joshua VanBuskirk, DC