Back to School: Backpack Safety in Children

While preparing for back to school it is important to pay close attention to your child’s backpack. Carrying overweight backpacks can cause serious damage to children’s spines. Heavy backpacks can cause a child to hyperextend, or arch, their back, or lean the head and trunk forward to compensate for the weight of the bag.  These postures can stress the muscles in the neck and back. The natural curves in the middle and lower back can become distorted, which can cause irritation to the spine joints and the rib cage.

Doctors of Chiropractic offer these tips for safe backpack use:

  • Wear both straps and avoid the one-strap styled back packs. Hip and chest belts can also help to transfer some of the backpack weight from the back and shoulders to the hips and torso.
  • When putting on and removing backpacks, bend at the knees or have the pack at a higher level such as on a desk or table.  Avoid twisting motions.
  • Arrange the backpack so it rests evenly in the middle of the back. Shoulder straps should be adjusted to allow the child to put on and take off the backpack without difficulty and permit free movement of the arms. Straps should not be too loose, and the backpack should not extend below the lower back.
  • Keep the load at 10-15% or less of the student’s bodyweight.
  • Organize the contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the back.

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