A backpack is a handy and popular way for kids to carry their books and other school supplies. As they move through their day, kids need books and papers, pens and pencils, and even snacks and gym clothes. Keeping them organized in a backpack is practical and allows their hands to be free for other tasks like opening locker doors and holding the handrails going up and down stairs.
However, backpacks can also be the leading cause of back pain in children. Poorly designed backpacks that do not provide enough padding for small shoulders can lead to soreness. Additionally, a heavy backpack can pull a child’s spine out of alignment and cause him or her to lean forward while walking, wreaking havoc on your child’s posture and balance.
Backpacks for School
Choosing a backpack with quality design and structural elements for the school year can help ensure the weight of the pack is even, reducing the risk of back pain and other posture problems. Here are the features you should look for:
• Straps — Backpacks for kids should have two straps that can distribute the weight evenly on both shoulders. This will prevent your child from constantly leaning to one side and developing poor posture as he or she grows. It also allows for good balance with the weight centered on their body, so muscles on either side of the body engage evenly.
• Size — To effectively carry the load and not damage your child’s posture and developing muscles, the backpack needs to fit properly in the center of his or her back. Where the two straps meet at the top of the bag should be just one or two inches below your child’s shoulders. The bottom of the pack should not hang more than a couple inches below the waistline.
• Padding — The best backpacks for kids include wide straps with adequate padding. Comfort is important. Padding will take some of the pressure off of small shoulders that may not be naturally padded with muscle and fat yet. Wide straps also distribute weight better and don’t dig into tender shoulders.
Even with the best comfort features on your child’s backpack, though, it can still lead to back pain if it is overloaded — your child cannot carry an excessive amount of weight to school every day. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons sets a standard for the weight of a child’s backpack at 15-20% of the child’s body weight.
Along with fitting the backpack to your child, you can monitor the amount of weight that is carried in it to be sure it is not contributing to back pain. As your child grows, he or she can graduate to a bigger, heavier pack, but it’s a good idea to start small. Back pain that develops in childhood can affect your child into adulthood.
For more help with your kid’s back pain, contact the specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic to schedule an appointment.