Back to School: Backpack Safety Backpacks come in all shapes and sizes. They can be very beneficial if used correctly. Unfortunately, backpacks do not fall into the category of “one size fits all”. It’s extremely important to have a properly fitting backpack in order to reduce the risk of muscle strains and joint problems.

Kids can have backaches from lugging around the weight of books, school supplies, and personal items. It’s recommended that kids carry no more than 10% to 20% of their body weight in their packs. The weight can pull a child backward, making them bend forward at the hips or arch the back to stay steady. This unnatural position can lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain.

There are a lot of kids who wear their backpacks over just one shoulder causing them to be unbalanced and lean to one side to compensate for the weight. They might develop lower and upper back pain and strain their shoulders and neck. Improper backpack use can also lead to bad posture. Also, backpacks with tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can cause tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.

There are several things to look out for when purchasing a backpack for your kids. You want to make sure to purchase a lightweight backpack with two padded shoulder straps, a padded back, waist belt, and multiple compartments. Canvas backpacks are a great option because they are lightweight and don’t add a lot of weight to your child’s load. The padded straps and back will increase comfort and reduce digging into your child’s shoulders. A waist belt and multiple compartments will help evenly spread the weight across the body and throughout the backpack. It’s important to spread out the weight and make sure textbooks are in the center compartment since they weigh the most.

It’s very important your child is wearing the proper backpack in order to prevent muscle strains and joint damage that can be permanent. If you are unsure about your child’s backpack you can always bring it to your child’s appointment and Dr. Jess will be more than happy to help.

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