Every year in August, as children prepare to return to school, we are reminded of the importance of choosing and wearing a proper backpack. Believe it or not, backpacks can have an important health impact on the growing and developing bodies of children. More so, a heavy or poorly fitted backpack can affect a child’s musculoskeletal (MSK) health—both today and in the future. It’s time to review a few guiding principles to prepare your child for school, keeping their MSK health in mind.
It is not uncommon to see children trotting along to school, back hunched forward to balance a heavy or over-sized bag. Unfortunately, carrying such heavy loads long-term can cause problems to a child’s MSK system, and result in back pain—among other things. For example, children may condition their bodies to lean forward, arch their backs, and lean to one side. Creep can settle in the spine, and muscle can become fatigued and strained. This type of physical stress can also alter the posture and gait of children.
So how can these health consequences be prevented? It’s simple—help your child choose the correct backpack which will fit their body and is adjustable as they grow. Follow these tips:
- The backpack should be between 10 to 15 percent of the body weight of the child.
- Distribute the weight of the bag evenly across the back. The more spread out the load is, the less strain there is on the body.
- Make sure the child wears both shoulder straps. Wearing a backpack over just one shoulder can cause leaning to one side, which could curve the spine over time.
- Adjust shoulder straps so the backpack fits closely to the upper part of the body. The further a backpack is away from the body, the more difficult it is to achieve proper balance.
- The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.
- A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning its contents most effectively.
- Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry and the heavier the backpack will likely be.
- The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body.
Picking The Right Pillow
A good pillow for sleeping should be comfortable to lay your head upon, but most importantly it must support your neck keeping it in alignment with the rest of your spine. There are many different pillows on the market today from traditional feather and fiber ones to shaped pillows, memory foam and buckwheat pillows. It can be difficult to know what to choose.
There is no one “best” pillow for everyone. Try these tips to pick the pillow that’s right for you.
- Choose a size of pillow suitable for your body size or frame. The pillow should cover the entire back of your neck to avoid putting pressure on your spine.
- Try out the pillow. Most pillows are packaged in a plastic wrapper so you can lay it on a display bed in the store and put your head on it. This is the best way to find out if you are on the right track.
- A hypoallergenic pillow is a must if you suffer from allergies, but it is also a good choice for anyone.
- Buckwheat filled pillows have become increasingly popular. Buckwheat is hypoallergenic, it will mold to the contours of your head and neck providing good support, but it will also change shape when you move.
A good quality, supportive pillow provides many benefits including a better night’s sleep, improved circulation, fewer aches and pains and even reduced snoring. Take your time and choose carefully. Your neck and back will thank you for it!
Original article can be found here.