It's that time again, time for your kids to go back to school! So help them get back to school in a healthy way. Wearing backpacks the wrong way can cause joint pain, muscle pain and skeletal mis-alignments. Since your kids are still growing it's important that they develop good habits that will keep their musculo-skeletal systems in balance, and save them some pain down the road!
Getting the right backpack is a great place to start. Remember that your child will likely be carrying the same pack for the whole school year and likely longer so make sure you get one that will be comfortable for your child's frame. First make sure that they get an actual backpack, not a messenger bag, briefcase or a large purse. Though those types of bags might be trendy, carrying a load on one shoulder causes uneven pressures on your child's muscles and spine. Second, make sure that the straps are thicker rather than thinner. Thinner straps can dig into the nerves on top of your kid's shoulders and cut off circulation, causing pain.
Backpack loads should never be more than 15% of your child's weight. Less than 10% is ideal. Carrying too much weight can cause compression of the spinal discs. So actually weigh that thing! Check it out and see if your child's backpack is too heavy. And if it is, see if there is anything that can be left at home.
Lastly, make sure that your child is wearing their backpack high on their back, and using both straps. Wearing the backpack low, where the bulk of the weight is hovered over the low back or butt usually leads to your kid leaning forward while walking. This puts extra strain on the shoulder and the lower back. Also walking while leaning forwards increases the chance of tripping. So make sure that the load is being carried towards the top of the back not the bottom.