ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — One item on a child’s school supplies list might be a new backpack, but having the wrong one or wearing it improperly can lead to back problems.
Lugging around textbooks in a heavy backpack has an effect, especially on young kids. Wearing a backpack correctly will help take the weight of back pain off of their shoulders.
I know that firsthand. I used a one shoulder messenger bag back when I was in third grade. While it was cool and in-style at the time, my shoulders are now uneven from carrying that weight.
“Fifty-five percent of kids who wore backpacks were wearing them beyond the safe recommendation, which is a maximum of 10-15% of their body weight,” said Kelly Bogowith, a physical therapist with OSF Healthcare.
There were around 1,200 backpack-related injuries every year between 2019-2021 than sent children to the emergency department. That was during the COVID-19 pandemic when many kids were learning remotely.
Doctors recommend a backpack that has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps. It will help distribute the weight in the backpack and keep it from digging into the shoulders.
Improperly wearing a backpack can also be damaging. Kids should have both straps on their shoulders, with the bottom of the bag hitting their lower back.
Backpacks that have different compartments allow for even weight distribution.
“If the child is leaning forward, arching their back or even just complaining of neck pain, shoulder pain or back pain, those are some things to further investigate into the proper fit of the backpack and the weight,” Bogowith said.
Too much weight can create abnormal stress on the body and lead to chronic problems.
“Once you have one episode of back pain, you tend to have additional,” Bogowith said. “So, I think it’s a concern that’s definitely worthy of a parent taking a look at with their child.”
Parents should keep the weight of their child’s backpack in mind, check to make sure that it is not dragging them down or causing them to slouch and avoid one-shoulder bags.