Looking cool can hurt. How to help your kids avoid backpack pain

Back to school shopping can be a pain. But as your kids look for that perfect school bag, make sure it won’t lead to their own back pain down the road.

Compared to messenger bags, totes and purses, backpacks are the best alternative for carrying books and papers home from school. They also take advantage of the strongest muscles in the body. An afternoon filled with physical activity, however, adds even more pressure to these muscles. If you notice your child has an achy back, see if their backpack is part of the problem.

The first step to relieving any extra pain is limiting the amount of items in the backpack. The weight of your child’s backpack should equal no more than 15-20 percent of your child’s body weight. Make sure they are only carrying around the essentials, instead of a whole locker full of school supplies.

You should also encourage your child to choose a backpack with thick straps and a padded back. If the backpack’s straps dig into their shoulders, it injures nerves and can cause tingling and numbness in their arms. Additionally, look for backpacks that feel light, but have multiple compartments to balance weight throughout the bag. When packing for school, heavier objects should be packed low and toward the center of the bag.

Carrying a backpack improperly won’t cause scoliosis, but it may hurt your child’s posture and cause unnecessary strain on their growing bodies. Furthermore, good posture requires tightened backpack straps and the use of the waist strap.

Learn even more backpack safety tips on KidsHealth and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons websites.

If your kids end up with back pain from their school bag or from any other activity, visit bit.ly/MSclinics to find a clinic near you that can help.


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