Every fall, I get asked by concerned parents about how school bags can affect their children’s spines. Research clearly shows that there is an association between heavy backpacks and risk of back pain in children. A study involving 1,403 school children between the age of 12-17 showed that those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% higher risk of back pain. Other studies have highlighted the risks of heavier backpacks, especially when weights exceed 20% of the child’s body weight. Another Australian study confirmed that neck pain among adolescents is as common as back pain. Children assume a compensatory forward head posture under backpack loads greater than 10-15% of their body weight. A poorly worn backpack can change posture and gait when walking, which will set a weak foundation for the body frame. It has been shown that adolescents diagnosed with back pain are much more likely to have chronic back pain and injuries as adults.
Here are some uniquely designed backpack
- by IVAR, which uses a Shelf System design.
So here are 10 practical tips for preventing back pain from carrying schoolbags:
- Reduce the weight to 10-15% of the child’s body weight
- Reduce the duration of time wearing the backpack
- Place heavy items so that they are closest to the child’s back and make sure they can’t move around (or one with shelf system design)
- The bags should have wide, padded and adjustable shoulder straps
- Lightweight design is ideal
- Use the compression straps at the sides of the bag to bring the load together
- Use the waist strap and chest strap to bring the load closer to child’s back
- Backpacks should not be wider or longer than the child’s torso (maybe adjustable)
- Don’t carry the backpack low on the back
- Show your child the correct way to put on the backpack and wear it properly