Your child’s backpack should never weigh more than 15% of their body weight. Every years we give a series of Backpack Safety Workshops at a local Middle School. A random sampling of the student’s backpacks found the majority were 25-30% of their body weight. Only one student’s backpack was below 15%.
Heavy backpacks are one of the major causes of back pain in school age students. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics 6% of 10 year olds and 18% of 14-16 year olds have low back pain. Only 7% of those children with low back pain seek medical treatment.
There are many causes of low back pain in children including laptops, sitting, smart phones and poor posture. Here we will focus on backpacks. Below are important tips to make backpacks less dangerous to your school aged children:
- Make sure your backpack weighs no more than 10 – 15% of your body weight
- Empty your backpack periodically to insure it contains no unnecessary items
- Make sure your backpack hangs no more than 4 inches below your waist
- Use both straps!
- Use thickly padded straps
- If your backpack has a waist strap, use it!
- Always place the heaviest items closed to your back (your center of gravity)
- Always lift with your legs, without twisting
Now is a great time to weigh your child’s backpack. If it weighs more than 15% of their body weight, go through it and make sure it only contains what they need for school. If you child complains of back pain take it seriously and seek chiropractic care ASAP. If your school would be interested in our Backpack Safety Workshop please contact me. We do these as a public service. It is also important to measure torso length first in order to choose the right backpack.
“The Wayland Middle School Wellness department is so thankful to have partnered with the amazing chiropractors at Performance Health Center for a second year. Through their generous donation of time, we were able to teach over 200 6th graders about proper posture, how to properly pack a backpack, and how to prevent injuries by teaching them the guidelines on how to wear a backpack properly.”
Pam Riddle, M.Ed., ATC, CMT
Wellness & Health Teacher