July 24, 2019
According to the American Chiropractic Association, young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations. What is a top contributing factor? Carrying a heavy backpack to school. When choosing a backpack for your child, you’ll want to consider the following things:
Size of Backpack
You’ll want to choose a backpack that matches the size of the child wearing it. Larger backpacks on a small child are more likely to cause strain. Look for backpacks with two wide and padded shoulder straps, a padded back or choose a rolling backpack. Backpacks with a waist strap are also an option.
Weight of Backpack
Heavy backpacks can cause pain in the neck, back or shoulder. They can also cause injury to muscles and joints. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that your child’s backpack (including supplies and books) should weigh no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. They say a heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
How the Backpack is Worn
It is advised that both straps on the backpack should be used when carrying it. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says that lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain. This also applies to messenger bags as they only have one strap. The straps should be tight to keep the weight closer to the back. When the backpack is picked up, your child should bend their knees when lifting it up instead of lifting with their back. Don’t let your child’s backpack hang more than four inches below the waistline. If it hangs too low, then that increases the weight on their shoulders causing them to learn forward when walking.
Extra Tips for Parents
● If your child is having back pain, encourage them to make frequent stops to their locker when their school allows to help reduce the weight they are carrying.
● Encourage your child to tell you if they experience any discomfort or tingling in their arms or legs. This could indicate poor backpack fit or that they are carrying too much weight each day.
● When their backpack seems to be too heavy, tell your child to carry some of their books in their hands. This will take off the excess weight from their back.
● You can also talk to the school about keeping a set of textbooks at home so your child doesn’t have to carry them back and forth.