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The summer flies by too quickly, and before you know it, you’re heading out to do your annual Back-To-School Shopping. (And if you were alive in the 1990’s, this probably brings the lyrics of “Parents Just Don’t Understand” to the surface.) After all, students need to be properly prepared for their year of enhanced scholastic¬†aptitude… right? They “go to school to learn, not for a fashion show,” says the wise philosopher Will Smith.

Okay, so even if your kids aren’t going to spend every waking moment of this coming school year pouring over their books, they’ll still have to lug ’em around. A lot. And over time, those backpacks become a deep abyss, a black hole from which old tests, homework assignments, and progress reports cannot escape.

The average load of the backpack burdening the back and shoulders of your kid will equal around 22% of their body weight. That’s the same percentage as the average healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Do you really want your kids walking around lugging the equivalent of a third trimester baby? It’s estimated that around 7,500 emergency room visits each year are related to the strain from carrying backpacks that are far too heavy and not designed to distribute that cumbersome weight evenly. Could that happen to your kids?

Why It Matters

Many symptoms and diseases later in life begin from accidents, traumas, or injuries from as early as childhood. That could mean that any injury your kids have had that hasn’t been completely corrected could be made worse by the added weight of a backpack. Even if they haven’t suffered anything monumental, they’re still subject to Repetitive Stress Injuries, which in its simplest definition means “any activity you do over and over that results in pain, swelling, strain, or damage”. So yes, carrying around a backpack large enough to hold 5 textbooks, 2 binders, a calculator, a scheduler, a cell phone, pens and pencils, a ruler, a notebook, a packed lunch (and in the case of the backpack pictured above, possibly a large Rottweiler) back and forth between the house, the bus stop, classes, after-school practices or rehearsals, and back home again would certainly qualify as a repetitive stress.

What You Can Do About It

Obviously, the first place to start is buying a quality backpack, one that won’t need to be replaced quickly, and one that allows the most support for their bodies. We recommend AirPacks, which are specially designed to lighten stress on the shoulders and places weight on stronger, load-bearing muscles in the hips and low back.

Be sure to educate your kids about the importance of cleaning out their backpacks regularly so that they carry only the necessary items. Think about how much extra stuff gets left in your wallet, your bag, your briefcase, and consider making this Unburdening of Unneeded Junk a family routine. They should also be able to use desks or lockers at their school so they don’t have to haul the contents of their semester on their person.

Remind them, too, to wear their backpack straps on both shoulders, and if provided, using a waist strap to distribute weight evenly. (The same goes for you, too. Switch your bag or briefcase to the other shoulder or arm consistently– every other day, every other week, every other month– so that you prevent the same stress and structural fatigue.)

And, of course… get them adjusted! Kids should be active and having fun. Their day-to-day life of learning, sports, plays or musicals, and hanging out with their friends should never be impeded by poor health. Keeping them healthy is far easier than trying to make them healthy, and by getting your kids adjusted regularly, you’re both preventing a lot of sickness during the school year and nipping early signs of future diseases in the bud.

The next time you’re in for an adjustment, check out our supply of AirPacks– good for school, hiking, and more!

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