Backpack Safety: Pack It Light, Wear It Right

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It’s almost that time of year again; the summer is coming to a close. Families are trying to take advantage of the last few weeks of vacation and, of course, back to school ads take over your television and flyers. With that comes the inevitable scramble to outfit and prepare your kids for the new school year.

One thing that is a necessity for the vast majority of kids is having a backpack. They carry their lives to and from school in these convenient packs, but with that comes added stress to their spines. We’ve all seen that small child carrying a backpack that’s twice as big as they are, and perhaps that’s been your kid.

Our goal as we head into the new school year is to equip you with simple tips that will help your kids practice safe backpack usage, as well as help you choose the right backpack for your child so that they don’t look like a miniature mountain climber.

Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between backpack weight and increased incidence of low back pain. There is a sharp increase in the prevalence of low back pain when children go through puberty. In fact, adolescents that experience low back pain are far more likely to experience it as adults than those who don’t, so taking extra precautions to minimize backpack use during this time is especially important. It has also been shown that even carrying a backpack weighing 15% of their body weight changes all of the postural angles in pre-adolescent children.

Here are a few great tips for wearing a backpack safely:

  1. Never wear your backpack on one shoulder. Use both straps and adjust them so that the backpack sits flush against the back.
  2. Use the waist strap of the backpack as it helps to take stress off of the lower back.
  3. A full backpack should be no more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight.
  4. Be sure to pack the heaviest items close to the spine and lighter objects away from the back.
  5. The backpack should be proportionate to the wearer. The top shouldn’t be higher than the shoulder and the bottom shouldn’t fall below the top of the hips.

Pack It Light, Wear It Right