As school is quickly approaching, it is important to consider the load that our children will be carrying on their backs daily. Technology has become a big contributor to neck pain in children and teens. Back pain has been on the rise as well because kids are now carrying heavier packs to and from school.
Things to consider for your child’s backpack:
Padded straps and a padded back
Straps that are nice and wide to distribute the weight
Having two straps and using both equally
Multiple compartments to help distribute the load
Make sure the backpack size is appropriate for your child; bigger is not always better
The backpack and its contents should weigh no more than 10% of your child’s body weight
Having wide and padded straps will help distribute the load and tension put on your child's shoulders. Having a padded back piece is a bonus as well for added comfort. You want to make sure that their backpack has two straps and that they wear them both at the same time, this helps evenly distribute the weight as well.
Your child's backpack should have multiple compartments or pockets for storage. We want to pack the heaviest items closest to your child's back. This puts the load in the safest position for your child, just like carrying objects, we are safest when carrying heavier loads closer to our bodies.
Make sure your child's backpack is appropriate for their size; bigger is not always better. Ideally the backpack should not weigh more than 10% of your child's body weight. If your child has access to a locker, have them use it. If they are younger, see if they can store items or books at their desk. If their backpack weighs too much, talk to the teacher about ways to lighten the load and see if anything can be left at school.
Excess weight in a backpack can cause kids to lean forward while walking and puts them in a less than optimal load bearing posture. This poor position can be worsened if the pack hangs lower than 4 inches below the child’s waist. The same goes if it is too high up on the shoulders. You want the backpack straps tighter to keep the load close to your back for better weight distribution.
Taking a few minutes to evaluate our children’s backpacks can save them a lot of discomfort and pain as they work their way through the school year. Remember to break up that time spent on electronics and let’s help our kids have a great year in school!
Jeric Toney, DC
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