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Is your child wearing the RIGHT backpack the RIGHT way?

Is your kid's backpack setting them up for future pain?

Is your kid’s backpack setting them up for future pain?

By: Dr. Tyler Jack, DC

It’s the beginning of the school year and children are carrying around more things than ever in their backpacks. This year don’t allow your child to suffer from backaches, shoulder pain and headaches. In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, 64% of 11- to 15-year-olds who used backpacks also complained of pain. The first step is to make sure that your child’s backpack is suitable for their size. School backpacks come in different sizes and for different ages, adult backpacks are for adults not children. Whether it is heavy textbooks, notebooks, computers, or other electronic devices backpacks are contributing to more strain and pain than ever.

The suggested amount of weight of a backpack is 10% of the child’s weight.

For example: if your child weighs 80 pounds, their backpack should weigh no more than 8lbs.

Here are a few tips to help parents and children decrease the probability of backaches and shoulder aches from wearing backpacks during the school year:

  • The heaviest items should be packed closely to the child’s back.
  • Make sure that the backpack is filled with necessary items that are being used on a daily basis. Take the extras out!
  • Ensure that heavy books are necessary to bring home, or if the child is able to leave them in a locker/classroom.
  • If the backpack is still too heavy, remove a few items and have the child carry them with the arm.

Wear your backpack properly! This is the second most important consideration behind the amount of “stuff” in the backpack. Even a light load can cause havoc when worn improperly.

  • When the shoulder straps are adjusted so that they are snug, the bottom of the backpack should be about 2-3 inches above the waist.
  • Wearing your backpack on one shoulder can cause muscle strain and imbalance so make sure you DOUBLE STRAP! Don’t create long-term pain in an effort to look “cool” (yes…we are talking to you Rico Suave).
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that they are snug.
  • If the backpack has a waist strap, use it to distribute the weight of the pack more evenly.
  • Position your body properly too, by maintaining good posture, shoulders back and head over the shoulders when wearing your backpack (and even when you’re not wearing a backpack.)

In a study on the effect of backpack education on student behavior and health, nearly 8 out of 10 middle school students who changed how they loaded and wore their backpacks reported less pain and strain in their backs, necks, and shoulders. Don’t allow the weight of the backpack to “weigh down” your child’s health (see what I did there)? If your child starts experiencing pain or strain with carrying a backpack call our office to set up an appointment today! We also offer free backpack checks~bring in your child and their “typical” load and we are happy to help ensure they are wearing their pack properly.

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