As we get ready to send our kids to school, the first thing we hunt down is a backpack. As we all know, the backpack is essential from preschool (to hold lunch, books and sometimes stuff animals) through high school.
Unfortunately, as your child gets older, the load in the backpack gets heavier. Recent studies have shown that kids get back pain from their back packs.
According to WedMD:
“64% reported having back pain at some time. Two of every five children said they felt pain while wearing their backpacks. And almost 90% of those reporting pain said it was “bad” or “very bad.””
“About 16% said they had missed school, gym class, or after-school sports because of the pain, and almost 17% said they had seen a doctor for their back pain. Most students with back pain said the pain was recurrent.”
With homework, sports equipment and other items, what should parents to do prevent this back pain?
1. Lighten the load
Kids should not carry backpacks weighing more than 20% of their body weight. That’s a hard rule to follow when they are loaded down with textbooks and folders. I know one of my children carries everything back and forth each day whether she needs it or not.
If your child’s backpack is too heavy make sure they are only carrying what they need for that day. If they can’t get away from carrying everything, purchase a rolling backpack (although be careful because these are often very heavy and at some point they will have to life it).
Another tip – if there are some textbooks that are always coming home, ask if you can get a second set to keep at home so your child doesn’t have to transport these to and from school each day.
2. Shoulder straps
Make sure the shoulder straps are wide and padded and that there is a waist belt. The straps and belt help spread the load so the child’s upper back isn’t carrying all the weight.
If you can find one with additional padding on the backpack itself, that’s even better because it makes it more comfortable and safer for your child.
3. Proper posture
The best thing your child can do is to wear the backpack on both shoulders. I know kids think it looks better to wear it on one shoulder but this really puts their body in a tilted position, especially with heavy backpacks, that can add to their back pain.
Place heavier books closest to the back, and be sure to bend at the knees when picking up the backpack.