It’s that time of year again and back-to-school prep is all of the conversation. That means your child will be gearing up from a summer of fun to carrying a heavy book bag to school with all of their textbooks, notebooks, homeowner, and the extras.

This also leads many chiropractors to seeing parents of children with back problems because of overstuffed backpacks and pain from it. While it’s an exciting time of year for new subjects, new teachers, football games, and the kids getting older, it’s also that time of year when backpacks are heavy and kid’s backs are in danger. Take a look at how you can protect your child’s back from this year’s backpack.

How backpacks harm a child’s health

While you may be worried about packing a healthy lunch and keeping grades up, you should really be taking the time to focus on your child’s back health from lugging around new textbooks and even laptops. Backpacks are notoriously worn incorrectly and can damage children’s’ spines.

In fact, almost 80 million kids will end up suffering from pain from wearing their backpack incorrectly this year. This affects the spine, shoulders, posture, and more. Many kids like to wear the backpack on one shoulder or they overstuff the bag, making it not only a chore to carry, but damaging to vertebrae of the spine.

What often happens is that children, regardless of what parents intend, will wear their backpacks incorrectly because they are in a hurry, overwhelmed, or unaware of the damage the pack can cause. They could trigger subluxations or cause postural imbalances. Causing a misalignment to the spine’s vertebrae will actually put pressure on the nervous system and prevent communication within the body from the irritated nerves. Other symptoms occur when this happens and you may not realize the pain is all traced back to the backpack.

How you can prevent injury

There are really simple ways to avoid backpack injury but knowing is half the battle. It’s important to choose the right backpack to begin with, and then follow a few simple steps from there. You need to make sure you don’t select something too big for your child, nor should it be too small. A backpack must have two straps and it shouldn’t hang over four inches below your child’s waistline.

That way, you can ensure that your child is wearing the backpack properly and that it won’t overwhelm your child’s back. These days, you’ll see more and more children with a backpack on wheels, which is the ultimate best choice in backpacks, but you’ll want to check to see if it’s allowed with the school first.

Once you’ve selected the right backpack, it’s time to talk to your child about how to wear it properly. First and foremost, make sure your child wears both straps and doesn’t try to wear it on only one shoulder. Next, make sure he or she is wearing it at the proper tightness, because wearing it too loose or too tight can be damaging to the back. Often children will try to wear it loose on only one shoulder and it’s one of the main reasons that back pain begins from a backpack. Encourage your student to swap out their books between classes to avoid carrying too much and be sure to adjust the backpack as your child grows. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you’re packing it properly, with the weight not to exceed 15% of your child’s body weight, and putting the back on by lifting the legs rather than the back.

Even if you follow backpack procedures perfectly, it’s important to have your child adjusted with the chiropractor on a regular basis. This allows his or her back to have a reduction in subluxations and pressure, and a chance to restore the communication throughout the body.

Be sure to follow backpack procedures this school year and to keep your children’s wellness as a top priority going into this new season of life.