Do Backpacks Cause Back Pain?

Are we setting our kids up for success or back pain?

Do you know how much your child’s backpack weighs? Did you know that a backpack weighing more than 10-15% of your child’s body weight can not only cause back, neck or shoulder strain, but could cause damage to their developing spine?Backpack

How Much Does That Backpack Weigh?

Studies show that heavy loads placed on a child’s spine compress spinal discs and distort the natural spinal curves. In addition to compressing discs and curves, heavy backpacks can cause muscle strain and spasm contributing to headaches, neck and/or arm, shoulder and back pain.BackpackPain

"Backpack loads are responsible for a significant amount of back pain in children, which in part may be due to changes in lumbar disc height or curvature,” according to researcher Timothy B. Neuschwander, MD at the University of California at San Diego. 

"Over 92% of children in the U.S. carry backpacks that are typically loaded with 10% to 22% of their body weight. Thirty-seven percent of children aged 11-14 years report back pain, the majority of whom attribute the pain to wearing a school backpack,” write the researchers.

How can you make sure your child's backpack isn't causing pain or future problems?

Backpack Safety Checklist

  • Each weekend, empty out your child’s backpack and see what they have stuffed inside. You will be surprised by what has accumulated, adding unnecessary weight.
  • Find out if they need to carry all of their books all of the time or only on certain days.
  • Check the backpack straps for proper shoulder placement, making sure that the bottom of the backpack is 2” above the waist and resting in the curve of the lower back. If there is a waist-belt, use it to help transfer weight evenly from shoulders to the lower body.
  • Continue reminding your child that wearing the pack on both shoulders is important to prevent spinal issues later
  • Weigh your child’s backpack once a week to determine if it is within the safe range of 10-15% or less of your child’s body weight
  • If your child is not under regular wellness chiropractic care, check your child’s shoulder and head level at least once a month to determine if they are showing early signs of repetitive stress on a growing spine. (A Family Wellness Chiropractor who is trained to detect the early signs, can perform this exam.)  BackpackJum

Core strength and spine health are important parts of your overall wellness. Make sure that you keep your growing kids safe and fit by ensuring their backpacks are not getting in the way of spinal development or good posture.BackpackThumbsUp

dr-taglioAs a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.

The opinions expressed here represent those of the author. California Family Fitness will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or exercise program.