Lighten the load—of your child’s backpack!

Each day, you send your child off to school.  You make sure he has his lunch, homework and books—which are all placed in his backpack.  Once the backpack is loaded, out the door he goes.

He then lugs his backpack around with him all day at school.  And while these bags are necessities, they can be giving your child major back pain!

Heavier bags, of course, cause greater spinal strain and increased back pain. As a backpack becomes heavier, with books and other school supplies, compression of the intervertebral discs, which act as a cushion between the vertebrae, occurs.

Heavier loads are also associated with increased curvature of the lower spine, either to the right or left. Spinal curvature could even become worse, if your child wears his backpack over one shoulder, like most do.

On a developing child, this continued weight can have lasting effects on their back health.  It is important to reduce the weight of backpacks and make sure children are wearing them properly to prevent injury.

Now, instead of going out to by your child a backpack on wheels, which causes problems of its own on stairs and through crowds, weigh your child’s average backpack load.

The total weight of the backpack should only be between 10% and 15% of your child’s body weight.  For instance, a 100 pound child should carry about 10 to 15 pounds.

To lighten the load, take out any items from the backpack that your child does not need for the day. Also, make sure your child knows to only bring home the items he needs for that night’s homework.   At school, your child should have access to a locker, desk or other storage space so that he does not have to cart around so much.

Encourage your child to wear backpacks at a proper height, fitting flush against their back, rather than letting it hang low, as is popular with school children today.  Before your child leaves each day make he is wearing his backpack correctly and that he has a light load!

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