Southwest Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Information Headquarters

Backpack buying tips to aviod Back Pain

Posted by Dani Livsie on Jan 17, 2011 3:12:00 PM

backpack painA recent survey by Lands' End Direct Merchants found that more than 96 percent of children ages 8 to 12 will carry a backpack to school this year. Of those, nearly one-third will carry their backpack improperly. Similarly, another study found that the average child carries a backpack that would be the equivalent of a 39-pound backpack for a 176-pound man, or a 29-pound backpack for a 132-pound woman. This significant amount of weight can cause your child to experience back, neck and shoulder pain. Keep these tips in mind as you are purchasing your child’s backpack this year.

  • Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. If the backpack is heavier, it will cause your child to begin bending forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.                      
  • The position of the backpack is important. The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
  • A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. When packing the backpack, make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back. An uneven surface rubbing against the back could cause painful blisters.
  • It is important that your child wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one shoulder strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain. Padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable and can dig into your child’s shoulders
  • Keep in mind that bigger is not necessarily better. You should buy the best-designed backpack possible for your child. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry-and the heavier the backpack will be.

Topics: health, injuries