Be Forewarned of Backpack Injuries

a boy with school backpack

Backpacks may seem harmless at first glance.  They’re a great way to transport items from point A to point B and you need one when you go camping.  But backpacks are more treacherous than they may appear.

For example, 14,000 children and teens sustain backpack injuries every year.  That’s a statistic which shouldn’t even exist, if you want my opinion.  But kid’s backpacks are loaded with books, food, sporting gear and heaven knows what else.

And kids aren’t the only ones falling prey to the insidious work of the backpack.  Adults can take a hit, too.

Here’s what you need to know to be forewarned of backpack injuries.


If you’ve got kids, I suggest you pull out the bathroom scale and weigh their packed backpacks.  Now weigh your kid.

If the backpack is heavier than 20% of your kids’ weight, then you could be allowing them to mess up their backs.

Carrying heavy loads leads to compression in the spine.  The vertebrae are held apart by the intravertebral discs, which are filled with a gel-like substance.  These little guys play an important role in spine health, as they prevent the vertebrae from rubbing together.

But when you’ve got spinal compression, they’re unable to do their job, which can lead to nerve impingement and pain.

And adults aren’t immune, either.  If you use a backpack, restrain yourself from purchasing the large bag of cat littler on the way home (because, hey, you have a backpack).  It’s not a good idea.  You are tempting fate and possibly compromising the health of your spine.

Backpacks Done Right

Your first job is to ensure your kids aren’t carrying too much to school.  Redistribute items in their backpacks.  Make them carry something in their hands to lighten their load.  Ensure that they’re cleaning out their backpacks regularly to reduce their weight.

For both you and the kids, choose backpacks with cushioned shoulder straps.  These can help reduce the pressure on your shoulders.  And never, for any reason, carry a full backpack on one shoulder.  It’s a breezy casual look, but your spine doesn’t care.  Use both straps.  Tell the kids.

Low-slung backpacks are a really great way to hurt your back, too.  Your backpack should be carried high and close to the body.  A supportive strap across the front of your body is a good feature, especially for the kids and for those of you who carry heavy loads, shopping, hiking or camping.

There is no reason I can think of that children should be injured by their backpacks.  You, either!  Choosing the right backpack and ensuring that you and the kids are wearing them correctly is a good start.  Reducing the weight being carried protects the whole family’s back.

Back & Body Medical

If you’ve fallen prey to the insidious treachery of the backpack, we’ve got good news.  You’ve got a friend in the pain relief team at Back & Body.

Our mission is to relieve pain and restore function, while giving you the tools to avoid re-injury.  Contact us.

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