When it’s time to go to school we often see small kids carrying large backpacks, which almost put them down with their weight. It might be cute to see a little student with a large backpack, but if the bag is too heavy, your child might suffer frequent back pain, which leads to more severe musculoskeletal issues in the future. According to doctors from Tel HaShomer‘s biggest hospital, carrying an overload can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain and can alter the normal curve of the child’s spine.
Check out how frequent they complain
If your child is complaining about back or neck pain during school weeks, but is completely fine during school breaks you should be thinking to ease their overload. To do this you need to start by weighting the backpack when it is fully loaded with a typical day’s essentials.
The backpack should weight about 10% of the child’s weight and up to 15%, but it is best to stick closer to 10%. For example, if your child weights 60 pounds, they should carry around 6 pounds.
Apart from weighting the backpack you can look at how the child carries it. If they lean forward or sideways it is a sign they are struggling with it. How your child goes to school should also be considered. If they walk to school or spend a lot of time waiting for the bus, they might have a bigger issue than a child who is taking the car or bus to school, spending most of the time sitting.
Choose the right backpack
Choosing the right backpack for your child can ease their burden, distributing the weight evenly, on their shoulders. When your child spots a backpack they like, they need to try it on. Ask them to walk around and observe how the backpack sits on their back. It should fit their body contour and provide a wide contact area. A good backpack is made from a light material, so avoid choosing leather bags or bags which have their own weight. When they are stuffed with the school supplies they will be very heavy.
Also, look for backpacks with two straps. Even if the child is attracted by packs with a single strap, they put a lot of pressure on one side of the body, altering the child’s posture and leading to back pain.
How to use the backpack to avoid injuries
It might seem it’s intuitive how to use a backpack, but kids often get creative. The most important thing is carrying the backpack with both straps on. Check that the straps are even and the backpack hugs the child’s body. Teach your child to avoid carrying the bag on one shoulder only.
If the child complains about back pain for two days or so, they should get some rest and carry a lighter backpack in the future. At this moment there is nothing to worry about. However, if the pain persists and seems to get deeper, it’s time to see a spine specialist or a pediatric orthopedist. Before adolescence, a child should not suffer from back pain, nor other types of persistent pain.