Backpack Safety

Your Child's Backpack Could Cause Serious Growing Pains

backpack safetyBackpacks are a very handy way for your child to carry his books and other school materials. But they can also put strain on his back muscles and joints and cause back pain if used incorrectly.

Help your child avoid lower back pain and injury this year by following these simple tips:

  • Buy a backpack with two wide, padded straps that go over the shoulders. Make sure your child uses both straps at all times.
  • Choose a backpack with a padded waist or chest belt. This distributes weight more evenly across the body. Multiple compartments also help distribute the weight.
  • Your child's backpack should not be wider than his body.
  • Consider choosing a backpack with a metal frame (like hikers use) or on wheels (like a flight attendant's bag). Check with your child's school first to see if these types of bags are allowed.
  • When fully loaded, your child's backpack should weigh less than 15 percent of his body weight. Use your bathroom scale to measure the maximum backpack load so your child can know what it should feel like.
  • Make sure your child isn't toting unnecessary items like laptops, CD players and video games. These can add a lot of pounds to a backpack.
  • Heavier items should be placed closer to the back of the backpack, near the body.
  • Picking up the backpack properly is important. As with any heavy object, your child should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting it to his shoulders.
  • Encourage your child to develop stronger lower back and abdominal muscles. This will help avoid back injury. Weight training and yoga are two activities that can help strengthen these core muscles.
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