In a scary trend, young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations. With any type of back pain there can be multiple factors. However, the use of overweight backpacks is most certainly playing a role, making backpack safety extremely important.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially when we look at how much weight is being carried in the average backpack, which can often be hung on just one shoulder.
An Italian study recently concluded that the average child carries a backpack equivalent to a 39-pound burden for a 176-pound man, or a 29-pound load for a 132-pound woman. It also found that of the kids carrying the heavy loads in their backpacks, 60% had experienced back pain.
To make the problem worse, many of the new schools around the Denver metro area have eliminated lockers. Although some of the books are not needed due to technology, these kids are still hauling around extremely heavy backpacks everyday throughout school.
So, what can you do as a parent to lighten the burden on your child’s back?
7 – Step Checklist to Backpack Safety:
1. Purchase backpacks with wide, padded straps.
2. Backpack straps need to be easily adjustable, so your child can make appropriate changes.
3. Tighten the shoulder straps so that the bottom of the backpack is 2 inches above the waist. If too loose, the backpack will dangle causing abnormal stress on the structure of your child’s spine.
4. Always wear backpack over both shoulders – wearing it on one shoulder increases likelihood for muscular and structural imbalances.
5. Pack heavier items near the center of the pack and not off to the sides.
6. Bigger backpacks are not always better – the more room in the bag, the more likely your child is to fill it up with heavy items.
7. The backpack should never weigh more than 10% of your child’s bodyweight. A heavier backpack will force your child to bend forward in an effort to brace against the weight. This will lead to excess stress on their low-back discs, muscles, and spine.
**Roller backpacks can be an alternative to kids who are unable to carry their backpacks on the back. However, roller backpacks must still be lifted up/down stairs, and are very difficult to pull in the snow.