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Focus on Health: School is Back, Protect your Back!Dr. Schoer

Dr. Schoer

Does your child experience back, neck, or shoulder pain throughout the school year? More than 50% of young people experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years and evidence suggests one cause is improper use of backpacks!

Back to school means children will be starting to fill their backpacks everyday with heavy textbooks, lunches, and other school supplies and over time, you may notice they start complaining about wearing a backpack. But don’t fret, wearing a backpack doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t!) cause pain if it’s packed and worn correctly! Take a look at the tips below to help your children avoid the aches and pains of carrying a backpack this upcoming school year:

#1. Choose the right backpack.

It is important to look for backpacks made with lightweight materials such as vinyl or canvas. This will help reduce the overall load carried by your child’s back. Also choose a backpack that has 2 adjustable, padded shoulder straps and an adjustable waist strap.

#2. Wear it correctly.

Ensure your child uses both shoulder straps to equally distribute the weight over their back, and adjust these straps so the backpack sits high and fits snugly to their body – the backpack should not sway side to side when walking. The waist strap should also be used to help distribute the weight of the backpack evenly between your child’s back and hips.

#3. Pack light.

Your child’s backpack should only contain what they need for the day to avoid carrying unnecessary weight. Ideally, the total weight of the backpack, including school supplies, should not be more than 10-15% of your child’s body weight. Also, ensure heavier items are packed towards the back of the backpack (closest to your child’s body) as this will reduce overall strain placed on your child’s spine!

Prevention is key and teaching your children about how to properly choose and wear a backpack can help avoid injury!

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