Back Packs – More Than Just Fashion and Function
School kids today not only have a lot on their minds, statistics show that they are also carrying a heavy load on their backs. You need only watch how students struggle while they walk with their overloaded backpacks to understand the potential health risks to the back and spine. Continually hauling heavy backpacks can cause stress to the developing spinal column, neck, arms, joints, and muscles of growing children.
To prevent pain and injury from an overloaded backpack itis important to recognize the correct way to choose, pack, lift, and carry a backpack.
Choosing a backpack
Make sure that the backpack is made of lightweight material, has two wide, adjustable shoulder straps, a waist belt, several individual pockets, a padded back and is proportionate to the child’s body size. It should not extend beyond a child’s shoulders or below the top of their hipbones.
More than 50% of young people experience at least one episode of lower back pain by their teenage years.
Packing a backpack
The load in a backpack should not exceed 10 percent of an elementary student’s body weight and 15 percent for those in secondary school. The contents should be evenly distributed with heavy items packed closely to the body.
Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly distributed can result in poor posture, and even distort the spinal column. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain and even nerve damage.
Lifting and carrying a backpack
When putting the backpack on, a child should place it on a table or chair, bend at the knees and lift with the legs while putting on one shoulder strap at a time. Before your child walks out the door encourage him/her to wear both straps so the bag fits comfortably and is close to the body.
Wearing a backpack
Both shoulder straps shoulder used and adjusted so that the pack fits snugly to the body without dangling to the side. Backpacks should never be worn over just one shoulder. You should be able to slide one hand between the backpack and your child’s back. The waist strap should also be worn for additional stability.