Finding the perfect backpack:
Wearing a backpack that’s too heavy and or poorly adjusted can lead to poor posture, neck pain, headache, mid and/or lower back pain, muscle strain, inflammation and even nerve damage.
Finding a perfect fit:
Ensuring the backpack is proportional to your child’s height and weight should be your top priority. It should be about the same width as the child’s back and shoulders. In terms of height, it should sit between the top of the shoulder and the top of the hips.
Once loaded, the lowest part of the backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. Make sure your child wears both shoulder straps and ensure they’re properly adjusted so they’re snug but not too tight, which causes the backpack to be worn too high.
Look for pockets:
Choose a backpack with several pockets rather than one large compartment. A divider allows your child to place heavier items-such as binders, textbooks, and laptop- closer to the body and supporting the back muscles. “Pockets help organize content and distribute weight evenly”. Remember, bigger is not necessarily better. The bigger the purse, suitcase or backpack, the more stuff we put in it.
Potential Health Risks:
Wearing a backpack on one shoulder or too high or too low can lead to curvature of the spine, known as scoliosis and contribute further to bad posture. Posture is important, “we often think about back problems with backpacks but neck problems are relatively common too”. The use of technology – laptops, iPods and other electronics – causes kids to get into a head forward posture and backpack can do that same thing, which is tough on the neck and shoulders.
Backpack basics:
Ask your child if their backpack is comfortable. Teachers also need to ensure that kids aren’t transporting items they don’t need every day, they need to limit the amount of the time they spend carrying their backpack, for example if they are at the bus stop, encourage them to set it on the ground while waiting for the bus to arrive.
Before embarking on your request for the perfect backpack, be prepared to compromise, especially with your younger children sure to care only about whether a backpack features their favourite TV or movie characters. “Choose a lunch bag with their favourite character instead of a poorly designed backpack.
SHOPPING TIPS:
Choosing it: Select a backpack made of lightweight material with two wide, adjustable shoulder straps, a waist belt, several individual pockets and a padded back. It should be proportionate to the child’s body size.
Packing it: the load in backpack should not exceed 10% of an elementary student’s body weight and 15% of a high school student’s body weight.
Lifting it: a child should place their backpack on a table or chair, bend at the knees and lift with the legs while putting on one shoulder strap at a time.

Dr. Guy Bahar is The Posture Doc., a Chiropractor with offices in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Toronto, Ontario and Oakville, Ontario.  Dr. Bahar specializes in correcting poor posture. His unique Posture Training Method corrects poor posture and improves forward head posture. See our amazing New Patient Special and find out what your posture number is today! Improve your posture in Richmond Hill, Toronto and Oakville!