Backpacks and Back Pain: What Parents Should Know

two girls carrying school backpacks

With the kids back in school, it’s time to start thinking about how carrying those heavy backpacks might be affecting their spine health.

While children are growing, a heavy backpack can have serious implications, so parents need to think about what’s going in it and if the backpack itself is serving their young ones.

This post is about backpacks and back pain:  what parents should know and what they can do about their children carrying excessive weight.

Check That Pack

Parents are busy people (especially working parents) but monitoring what’s in your kids’ packs is well worth the few minutes it takes.

A child’s backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 15% of his or her body weight.  Check for unnecessary items and then, talk to your children about what they need to take to school.  Books and other supplies, lunch and perhaps fresh clothes for gym are the necessaries.  Everything else should either stay at home or be carried in the hands.

Either that, or you can talk to your children’s teachers about what they might be able to leave in the classroom.

Other Considerations

The way your child carries a backpack is also important.  A lot of youngsters like to sling their packs over one shoulder.

That’s not a great look, no matter how cool they feel.  They should be using both straps to distribute weight evenly across both shoulders and to center it.

The backpack shouldn’t be longer than the child’s torso.  Further, it shouldn’t be hanging low on the body, forcing the child to adopt an unnatural posture to carry it.  Straps can be adjusted to make the pack sit higher up on the child’s body.

A backpack with an additional strap that fastens across the front of the body provides stability, preventing the pack from moving around on the child’s back.  Also, ensure that the shoulder straps have enough padding, so they’re not cutting into the shoulders.

Be Vigilant

No child should be in danger of hurting themselves because of an inappropriate backpack or one that’s too heavy.

Your role as a parent is to monitor your child’s wellbeing.  Have there been changes in the way your child walks or is holding herself?  Is he experiencing tingling in the extremities?  Have you noticed red marks on the shoulders caused by an overloaded backpack?

Watching for indications that your child is either carrying the pack improperly or carrying too much weight can help prevent physical problems which don’t need to happen.

Back & Body Medical

If you’ve noticed any of the changes mentioned above, a visit to Back & Body will identify any anomalies caused by your child’s backpack and treat them.

We’re an award-winning clinic in the heart of Manhattan, offering chiropractic, physical therapy, sports medicine and acupuncture in a multi-disciplinarian setting.

These are the things parents can do to prevent unnecessary backpack injuries in their children.  But if you’ve already noted a problem, then please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment.

Going to school shouldn’t be painful.

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