The new school year has begun and it is the perfect time for parents and caregivers to check the fitting of their child’s backpack. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics (JAMA Pediatrics), low back pain is a common problem amongst children and adolescents. Low back pain is rarely seen in the youth before school age, however these rates rise significantly until the age of 18.
The actual cause of low back pain amongst the youth cannot be attributed to one factor. However it is most often associated with musculoskeletal overuse or trauma. As children get older, carrying heavy school bags becomes inevitable. This simple, day-to-day, repetitive motion may be the cause of unintentional low back pain if carried incorrectly. Some signs of an improperly worn backpack include: uneven or slouching hips, and forward head posture. During a time when the spine is still developing, it is vital that poor posture be corrected.
Avoid low back pain with these simple tips on how to wear a backpack correctly:
Size: the child’s backpack should be no wider than the child’s chest.
Weight: backpack should be no heavier than 10 to 20 percent of the child’s weight. On average this equates to be around 4 to 15 pounds at most. To avoid carrying heavy loads, pack essential items, and store other materials in classroom or school locker.
Straps: choose packs with padded shoulder straps and always wear both straps. Utilize the additional straps on the pack such as the waist, and sternum. The waist straps help to distribute the weight load and relieve shoulder pressure. The sternum straps help with stabilization, and reduces swaying of the pack.
Position: adjust shoulder straps so that pack sits high on the child’s back. The backpack should not be worn below the child’s waist or hollow part of the back. In general the backpack should sit one to two inches above the child’s hips. If the backpack remains to sit lower than the hips after adjusting the straps appropriately, the backpack is too long.
Pack: the heaviest items should be packed closest to the spine or the base of the backpack. Stability is key; the backpack should not sway side to side when the child is walking.
It is important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the fitting of their child’s backpack. Low back pain can be both debilitating and cumbersome as it may make it difficult for the child to sit and concentrate in class, participate in gym class, and be active in sports. The health of your child’s neck and spine is important to a doctor of alternative medicine trusts. If you or your child is dealing with pain, don’t let it debilitate you any longer!