There’s a warning from a health expert as parents begin to send their children back to school: Overloaded backpacks can cause serious back pain.
So here’s some safety advice on how to lighten the load.
”Kids need to have things to be able to do their school work, but I think finding ways to be able to transport it back and forth where it has the least effect on their body will be most beneficial,” said Dr. Blaise Nemeth, a pediatrician who’s a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says a child’s backpack should weigh no more than 15% of their body weight. For a 75-pound student, that means the book bag should not weigh more than about 11 pounds.
Nemeth says pay attention to your child’s posture.
”If you see your child really leaning forward to try to be able to carry that weight, then the backpack’s probably too heavy,” Nemeth said.
To lighten the load, only pack items needed that day and keep the rest at home or in a locker.
You may also consider having your child carry two bags.
”One on the back and one on the front to kind of counterbalance,” Nemeth said.
Make sure the backpack is right for your child’s size. It should have a padded back and wide straps to distribute the pressure across the body.
Both straps should be worn. You may also have a waist strap.
Put heavier things like textbooks closer to the child’s body.
“A lot of kids will have back pain while they are wearing their backpack, but typically, it should go away after they take if off,” Nemeth said.
If the pain doesn’t go away, see a doctor.
Nemeth says bookbags with wheels are a good option and might be a bit easier on a child’s body, however, it may be harder for a child to get around school, especially in a busy hallway or if there are stairs.