When we consider back pain in kids, the most obvious culprit is the backpack. Just how much impact does a backpack have on a child’s body? Analysis from the Consumer Product Safety Commission demonstrates that when a child hauls a backpack weighing 12 pounds back and forth to school and raises it 10 times daily, by the end of the year, the total load is 21,600 pounds. Although it’s distributed throughout the year, the cumulative weight is that of a large African elephant, a combined force that can lead to back pain.

Backpacks are not just a functional item for books and supplies but a way for kids to express themselves with certain colors and themes. However, these shoulder bags are a common cause of back-to-school pain. Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Danielle Cooley, an osteopath with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, on proper selection and use to best prevent backpack pain.

Avoid back-to-school pain with the right backpack

  • You want a backpack with shoulder straps that are broad, have padding, and can be adjusted. By properly adjusting, you can rest the backpack where your back is strongest – the lumbar region of your lower back.
  • The backpack should have two straps, so that your child doesn’t have to sling it over one shoulder. The straps should also be even so that the weight is balanced across your back.
  • You don’t just want padding on the straps but on the back as well. That serves two purposes: defense against the discomfort of pressure from any cargo with sharp edges, and relief from the burden of a heavy load.
  • The backpack itself should be light and should have numerous pockets. The reason that various pockets and compartments can be helpful is that you can better control the balance of objects throughout to reduce backpack pain.

Tips for backpack use to prevent back pain in kids

  • Take advantage of your locker. You want most of your books and other items to be in your locker throughout the day rather than carried on the back.
  • Do homework throughout the week rather than waiting until the weekend to get everything done. Kids often let assignments accumulate and then bring home every book at once. It is easier on the back to have more loads with less weight, rather than the reverse.
  • Find out if your child is suffering from back pain, and change to a different backpack if you think there is a design problem. For any ongoing problems with back pain, contact a pain management physician. Health Star Clinic has been rated “Excellent” or “Very Good” by 98% of our patients. Get a free consultation today.