Backpacks - A Pain in the Back?


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If you find your child complaining about the weight of his backpack, it may be time to listen and take action. Backpacks can get very heavy when they are filled with books, lunches, and other items. Heavy backpacks can cause strain and pain to the neck, shoulder, and back.

Your child should not carry more than 10-20% of his own body weight in their backpack. This is doubly true if your child walks to or from school.

How can you tell if your child’s backpack is too heavy?

If your child complains of back pain, his backpack may be too heavy. Also, if he walks practically bent all the way forward just to adjust for the weight on his back, his backpack if probably too heavy. Does he complain of numbness or tingling in his hands or arms? Is he carrying more than 10% of his body weight in his backpack? These are all signs that your child’s backpack may be too heavy.

How can I minimize the impact of a backpack on my child?

  • Make sure that your child is carrying his backpack over both shoulders, not just one, even if slinging a backpack over one shoulder is the current style.

  • Do not let your child where is backpack extremely low – tighten up the straps. The bottom of his backpack should be above his bottom, not below it.

  • Invest in a good backpack with a waist strap and even a sternum strap. These straps help balance out the weight of a backpack so that it is not just your back that is handling all of the weight.

  • Buy a backpack with heavy padded shoulder straps.

  • Take some of the weight out of the backpack. Make sure that your child only carries in his backpack the necessities.

  • If your child must carry a lot of weight in his backpack, consider getting a bag that is on wheels (similar to a carry-on bag for an airplane). This sort of bag can be pulled along the ground with little strain to the body.

  • Avoid messenger type bags – these bags also go over only one shoulder and the weight is not as evenly balanced over the body.

  • If your child needs a lot of textbooks, you can always buy a second set of text books – he can leave is school textbooks at school and just study his homework from his set of textbooks at home.

  • If your child still complains of back, shoulder, or neck pain, contact a pediatrician.

    Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background includes teaching and gardening. For more of her articles on back-to-school information, please visit Homeroom Teacher .

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