It’s August, like many people, you are probably getting ready to start your back-to-school shopping if you haven’t already. One of the essentials on your list is undoubtedly a backpack. Since backpacks are no longer just for students or the outdoor enthusiast, while you’re at it, you may pick one up for yourself as well.
National School Backpack Awareness Day
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), September 18, 2019, is National School Backpack Awareness Day. In the effort to help you and your family reduce your risk of backpack-induced neck and back pain, Total Chiropractic and Wellness would like to share some backpack safety tips ahead of the back-to-school season.
Brief History of the Backpack
Backpacks have come a long way. According to time.com, the first zippered backpack evolved between the late 1930s and 1960s as a tool for outdoor adventurists designed by Gerry founder, Gerry Cunningham. The truest modern-version bag with controlled weight distribution targeting students and explorers alike arrived on the market around 1967-1968 by both Gerry and JanSport. Before 1967, students used a belt or belt-like strap to help carry books and supplies.
Future of the Backpack
Backpacks have already been seeing modifications to reflect the shift toward a more paperless society. With technology in the classrooms on the rise, backpacks are being reimagined to better support the electronic devices that are being carried. There are hybrid and smart backpacks designed with this purpose in mind.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) offers an extensive list of tips. Here is a brief summary:
Tips for Choosing a Backpack
- Choose a lightweight backpack that is no bigger than it needs to be. The bigger the bag, the greater the risk for overfilling.
- To help distribute the weight of the contents more evenly across the back, choose a backpack with pockets and compartments.
- Look for a padded back and wide, padded straps which will be more comfortable on the back and shoulders.
- Straps should be adjustable.
- Consider a bag with an adjustable waist strap.
Tips for Wearing a Backpack
- Tighten the straps so that the backpack does not sit too low or sway back and forth on the back.
- Adjust the backpack often as the type of clothing you are wearing may affect the fit.
- Wear your backpack on both shoulders and use the waist strap.
- Do not allow the bag to get too heavy. A general rule is no more than 5 to 15 percent of your body weight.
- Use compartments wisely to distribute the weight.
- Bend using both knees.
- Exercise regularly to build up the muscles used to carry a backpack.
- Students should use lockers to keep the load light.
- Do not ignore pain or discomfort caused by a heavy bag. Ask your pediatrician, primary care doctor, or chiropractor for advice.
- Talk to the school about possible ways they can help to lighten the load or consider keeping a second set of textbooks at home.
Backpacks on Wheels
In theory, the backpack with wheels seems like a great alternative because it keeps the weight off your back, but in practical terms, it is not that great of an idea. Here are some reasons why to reconsider:
- Rolling bags are considered a safety hazard in schools as kids trip over them in the hallways. In fact, many schools ban them.
- The noise made by the wheels can be disturbing.
- They are hard to pull up stairs and are difficult to roll through snow.
- Due to the mechanics, they are heavier in general.
- The convenience of having both hands free is sacrificed.
Total Chiropractic Care and Wellness Can Help
If you or your student are experiencing back or neck pain caused by wearing a backpack or for any reason, Total Chiropractic and Wellness can help. Dr. Goldman is very experienced and will be able to recommend a comprehensive treatment plan that will help alleviate the pain and help reduce your future risk. Contact us today!