As your kids head back to school, backpacks are a popular and practical way for children and teenagers to carry schoolbooks and supplies. But you’ll want to make sure they’re spine is protected. Backpacks can strain muscles and joints and may cause back pain if they’re too heavy or are used incorrectly. Experts say that some children are actually carrying around 25 percent of their body weight on their shoulders. This translates to an average man carrying around a 45 pound backpack for hours of the day. Here are some steps to take to help children load and wear their backpacks the right way:
- Select backpacks with heavily padded shoulder straps and lumbar support.
- Never let a child carry more than 15% of his or her body weight.
- Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back.
- Both shoulder straps should always be worn.
- Adjust the shoulder straps so the pack fits snugly to the child’s back.
- Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one.
- The bottom of the pack should never rest more than 4 inches below the child’s waistline; it should rest in the curve of the lower back.
Since backpacks aren’t going anywhere soon, a parent’s option is to try to reduce the stress on their child’s back and shoulders. This can be done by regularly monitoring backpacks to make sure they aren’t putting your child’s spine at unnecessary risk.