Back To School With Backpacks

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Back To School With Backpacks


Written by Dr. Enid Kennedy, DC

Now that September is here and our children are heading back to school, they will undoubtedly be getting back to using their backpacks.  Backpacks are a convenient way for kids to carry their school supplies, lunches and gym gear, however, poorly positioned and heavy packs can lead to postural problems and body pain.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a backpack, packing it correctly and lifting it safely:

Best choice:  Choose a pack made of lightweight material.  Pick one that has wide, adjustable and padded straps, a hip or waist strap, a padded back and plenty of pockets.

Pack it Properly:  Make sure your childs pack contains only what is needed for the day or activity.  At our house, we clean the backpacks out every week, as it is remarkable how much stuff accumulates in the bottom of those packs!  Distribute the weight of the contents evenly.  The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10-15% of your childs body weight.  For example, if your school-aged child weighs 60 pounds, then their pack should not weigh more than 6-9 pounds.  It has been found that many 10-13 year-olds carry, on average, 25.3 pounds! That is almost 3 times the recommended load on growing spines.

Wear it Properly:  Always use BOTH shoulder straps! Adjust the straps so that the pack fits snugly to the body; you should be able to slide a hand between the backpack and your childs back.  Never sling your backpack over one shoulder.

Research indicates that more than 50% of young people experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years.  One important cause is the improper use of backpacks. Additionally, students have reported having body pain in their neck, shoulders and upper back because their packs are poorly positioned and too heavy.

Back to school with a light pack that fits properly will help diminish chances of unnecessary back pain and postural strain.

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