Believe it or not, kids get back pain! It’s more common every year. Kids (university students too) carry large, heavy backpacks. Between lunch, textbooks, jackets and binders, backpacks can weigh up to 15 – 20 pounds or more. Lugging around these heavy bags can result in poor posture and put undue strain on the spine, especially if the heavy load is unevenly or improperly distributed. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage. The Ontario Chiropractic Association provides the following recommendations for backpack safety:
Choose the right backpack. Leather is too heavy; choose vinyl or canvas which are much lighter. Pick a bag with wide, padded straps, a hip or waist strap, and a padded back with plenty of pockets. Make sure it fits. Pack it properly. Pack sparingly, and distribute the weight evenly. The total weight of the pack should be no more than 10 – 15 percent of the wearer’s own body weight. Pack heaviest objects closest to the body and odd-shaped items away from the back.
Putting the backpack on. Teach young children to lift their bags with the arms and legs, bending with the knees and to put it on a waist-level surface first, not swing it around the shoulders.
The right way to wear a backpack. Use both straps on both shoulders - always! Adjust straps so that the pack fits snugly. Use the waist strap for added stability.