For parents and caregivers it's one of the most wonderful times of the year...for the children...not so much. I'm talking about back to school time. Seriously though, this time of year is critical in the growth and development of our children. They will be learning new information and skills that will set them up for future success. On the flip side, they will also be exposed to some negative stressors that may also set them up for futures problems.
One of those potential stressors is the backpack. You know what I mean...that high-priced-character-licensed-over-sized-not-so-kid-friendly-blackhole-of-crumpled-up-papers-and-crumbs carrier that all our kids need to have. They're great aren't they? My personal philosophy is one can never have enough bags.
We've all seen the kids who wear the packs hanging down below their rear-ends, or with only one of the two straps slung over a shoulder, or packed so full that it is tipping them backwards. Maybe you've been (or still are) guilty of these too, I know I was until I learned how and why I should wear the backpack appropriately.
Now you can bet when I wear a backpack I make sure to wear it correctly. Wearing the backpack correctly may not be the coolest looking thing to do, I get that, but we all know if we model healthy habits (because proper backpack wearing is important for adults as well) our children will also model those healthy habits. This will set them up for spinal and nervous system success in the future, all while reducing a potential negative stressor placed on them.
I'll keep it short and sweet without getting too nerdy. Basically their spine is still growing. While they may look like a mini-me on the outside, their inside (spine in particular) is not ready to sustain the forces we can. If that growing spine is allowed to sustain loads that it is not appropriately capable of withstanding then it will not grow healthy and strong. This will also mean more undue stress placed upon the nervous system. Not good my friends, not good. There is much research on the impact of the mechanical spinal stress creating nervous system stress.
All matter has limitations and this principle holds true for the young and developing spine. Let's not test these limitations in our growing children. You'll find the like HERE to download a PDF file of the Top 10 Backpack Safety Tips. All backpacks are not created equal, so encourage your child(ren) to use as many of these tips as possible. They have many problems to solve in the days and years to come...the backpack should be part of the solution.
Peace and Love!!!
Dr. Joe Manza DC, CACCP
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