Shopping for a school backpack? Read this first

sweet little girl carrying heavy backpack or school bag fullIt’s that time of year, when school supplies start lining store shelves and parents begin reviewing the back-to-school shopping list. But if your purchase plans include a new backpack, here’s a friendly reminder that a too-heavy backpack, or one that isn’t worn correctly, can cause back pain in your child.

Here are a few tips:

– Make sure your child’s backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. An overweight backpack will cause your child to begin bending forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
– A backpack with individualized compartments will help you position the contents most effectively and ensure that your child’s sandwich isn’t flattened by a heavy textbook.
– When packing the backpack, make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on the child’s back. An uneven surface rubbing against your child’s back could cause painful blisters.
– Tell your child to use both shoulder straps, not just one. A backpack slung over one shoulder disproportionately shifts all of the weight to one side, and can cause not only neck and muscle spasms, but also low back pain.
– Padded shoulder straps are very important.  Not only will they be more comfortable than non-padded straps, but they will also help prevent the straps from digging into your child’s shoulders.
– The shoulder straps should be adjustable, so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. Shoulder straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably, and cause misalignment and pain.
– If the backpack is still too heavy, talk with your child’s teacher.  It might be possible to leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter handout materials or work books.

Note that these rules also apply to adults who may be wearing backpacks as part of their work commute.

If your child is experiencing back pain, call our office at 425-778-9600 to schedule a consultation.

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