Backpacks – Pack It Light, Wear It Right

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Backpacks & Back Pain

It’s hard to believe that some schools are already back in session, but that’s the reality here in Minnesota. Regardless of whether your kid is back in school or they’re gearing up for another year, there’s one aspect of their daily school routine that they should pay attention to – their backpack.

Backpacks cause thousands of back injuries in school-age kids each year, and oftentimes the reason for the injury boils down to one of two main causes. Below, we’re going to share how one simple phrase can help your kid keep their spine healthy throughout the school year.

Pack It Light

Perhaps the most common cause of backpack-related spine pain is due to an overloaded backpack. We understand that as your kid gets older, they are going to have to carry around heavier books and more homework for each class, but don’t let them walk around with a constantly overloaded backpack. Heavy backpacks push the spine out of alignment, oftentimes forcing our lumbar spine forward or causing us to walk hunched over to support the weight of the backpack.

Talk to your kids about decluttering their backpacks. Leave some textbooks at home if you’re not going to need them, and try to pack only the items that you’ll need for that day. Put the heaviest items closest to your body and try to distribute weight throughout the bag, using side pockets if necessary. A full backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10 percent of the weight of the backpack wearer, so be smart about loading your backpack if you want to protect your spine. Be mindful of the backpack’s durability and potential weight distribution when shopping for a bag this season.

Wear It Right

The second part of the phrase is to wear the backpack right throughout the day. Make sure your child is wearing both shoulder straps so that weight is more evenly distributed throughout their body. The adjustable straps on each side should allow you to ensure the shoulder straps are at the right height to help the weight of the backpack be distributed evenly across both shoulders.

Also, you want to make sure that the backpack is at the right height on your child’s back. When viewing from the back, a backpack should never sink lower than the top of your butt. If it does, you’re going to be putting excess strain on your lumbar spine. Again, you should be able to adjust the height on the shoulder straps to make sure it sits at the right level.

Because it’s so important to not only have the right backpack, but to wear it correctly, it’s important to understand that hand-me-downs may not be the right option for your kid. Don’t try to force a backpack on your child if it is too big; there’s still plenty of time for them to grow into it. Also, if the backpack is too worn down and can’t safely distribute the weight across your child’s back, they could be at risk for injury. Finally, assess your child’s backpack position each day before they leave the house to make sure their spine isn’t at risk.

For more tips about wearing your backpack correctly to prevent against spine pain, or to talk to a doctor about your child’s back pain, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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