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Prevent Back Pain In Children With The Right Backpack

by:Joy Summit      2020-10-26
Back-to-school shopping brings with it the search for the perfect backpack. This year, place the emphasis on ergonomics when weighing your options.
Back pain may not seem like a big concern for kids, but their postural habits and body mechanics when young can lead to pain both in the present and future. According to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, 10-30% of children and teens experience back pain. If you've ever walked down a crowded school hallway or seen children get off the bus, you know that backpack design and use is a prevalent cause.
The first step to preventing backpack-related pain in your child is to look for an ergonomically-designed bag. This does not have to be a $150 purchase; any pack with the following features may be considered ergonomic:
Wide, padded shoulder straps: This feature prevents straps from digging into your child's shoulders while spreading the weight of the bag's contents over a wider area. A U-shaped connection at the top of the straps is a bonus feature, as it further reduces strain on the child's shoulders and neck.
Padded back: This prevents book corners and other objects from stabbing the child's spine and back muscles. This stabbing can not only lead to bruises but can also cause the child to shift and jerk the weight of the bag around frequently, risking strain to the muscles.
Compartments: A bag with compartments allows for organization and stability. It is best to keep heavy items at the bottom of the bag and close to the child's back; the hips will carry the weight, relieving strain from the back.
Adjustable straps: This allows the bag to be held at the proper height and, therefore, the contents to be kept close to the child's center of gravity. Bags that sag below a child's hips cause the spine to arch backwards and the muscles of the back and shoulders to work overtime trying to support the weight and stabilize the load.
Range of sizes: Adjustable straps won't compensate for a bag that is just too big for your child's torso. To find out what dimensions are right for your child's body, see the guide at
Waist and/or chest straps: These features stabilize the shoulder straps and hold the bag snugly against the child's body.
Check out the preschool backpack at for an example of an ergonomically-designed backpack.
Getting the right backpack is half the battle; the other half is ensuring it's used properly. Talk to your child about the importance of using both shoulder straps and not overloading the backpack. For young kids, it is best to load the bag for them, at least at first, showing them the best places to put certain items. Check the bag frequently to see that your child is packing it correctly.
It is also important to know your child's weight and the weight of the bag. The American Chiropractic Association states that a child should carry no more than 10% of his or her body weight in a backpack; other organizations cap it at 15%. If your child's bag continually weighs more than that, it might be time to contact the school about providing lockers or allowing more time for your child to drop things off in it.
Set your child up for back health early on. Education and ergonomics help kids grow up pain-free.

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