Backpack Safety Tips

Summer is almost over and soon your kids will be heading back to school. They will be strolling through the hallways with their backpacks full of books, electronics, and whatever else they can pack in there.
We have noticed an alarming trend- We see many kids come to our office with back pain around this time of the year. Sometimes the causes are obvious; sports injuries, poor posture, or a fall Often times, it’s their heavy backpack that is causing the issue. To help parents prevent these injuries, we have put together this “Back-to-school backpack safety guide”.

  • If your child uses the traditional backpack – urge them to wear both straps.
  • Adjust the pack so the bottom sits at the waist and the straps are snug against the shoulders.
  • Your child should carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in their school bags.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) offers the following tips:

  • Make sure your child’s backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
  • The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
  • A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back.
  • Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry-and the heavier the backpack will be.
  • Wide, padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable, and can dig into your child’s shoulders.
  • The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
  • If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child’s teacher. Ask if your child could leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter hand-out materials or workbooks.

The doctors and staff at Advanced Family Chiropractic Center are offering free backpack fittings for our patients and the general public. A fitting involves weighing a backpack (filled as you would fill it for a typical school day), checking the pack for safety (Are the shoulder straps wide enough? Is the pack too big?) and teaching your child how to pack it so weight is distributed properly.