Backpack safety measures

With the start of school set for next week, kids and parents are starting to fill backpacks with school supplies.

Kids on the Coast are gearing up for the start of school. With that comes kids carrying heavy backpacks filled with school supplies and textbooks. Chiropractor Bradford Dewitt of Dewitt Chiropractic in Gulfport says he generally sees cases of backpack-related back problems as the school year progresses. “We do start seeing issues with the low back. You can get muscle spasms due to the improper wearing of the backpack where they’re not having it on their shoulders or it is hanging too low.”

Dewitt stresses the importance of keeping backpacks high and secure while wearing them. “Make sure the backpacks are five to ten percent of your child’s body weight. You want to make sure the straps are all the way up on your shoulder. You don’t want the backpack hanging no less than four inches below your waist.”

Organizing a backpack properly can also go a long way in helping maintain a healthy back. “Have a lot of your heavier stuff to be closer to the child’s back. That should be the first thing loaded in and then the lighter stuff away from their back.”

If you child experiences back pain, there are things you can do to take action. While you should see a medical professional if you’re experiencing back pain, some exercises like wall angels can help to alleviate some symptoms as well as provide support to the upper spine.

Dewitt recommends backpacks have chest straps and padded shoulders, good choices to help maintain proper spine health. “Those are the newer ones that are coming out. That is starting to become a little bit more, I guess, popular because that will also help with the weight distribution and also the padded shoulders and stuff, that will help make it easier on the kids, where it’s not poking at them.”

Being constantly aware of backpack weight and back health can go a long way. “It’s just being mindful of doing the stretches and being smart about how to carry the backpack properly.”

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