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Backpack Safety and Posture: Avoiding Pain and Stress

06/27/2016 08:15AM ● Published by Hood Magazine

By Dr. Christine Duncan, Lanpher Chiropractic

Consumer Product Safety Commission reports as many as 7,000 backpack injuries were seen in the emergency room in 2001 alone.


In many chiropractic clinics, there has been a marked increase in the amount of young children who are complaining about back, neck and shoulder pain. Most cases are related to backpack wearing. This is not surprising, thinking about the disproportionate amounts of weight carried in backpacks, which are normally slung over just one shoulder. This extra burden, as seen in studies, can be as much as 39lbs for an adult man, and 29lbs for an adult woman. These amounts are just way to heavy for children.


The detrimental effects of children carrying too heavy a burden so often and at such a young age is great. There can be permanent curvature or deformity of the spine to accommodate the extra weight that their little bodies are just not ready for. This is a major problem, as this damage is done to them when they are in the midst of growth spurts.  


The correct amount of weight in a child’s backpack is 10% of their weight, and the backpack needs to be worn correctly as well. Ergonomically correct backpacks are a little bit more expensive, but worth the money in the long run.


Here are things to look for when assessing your child’s backpack:


Ø  Make sure the backpack never hangs more than 4 inches below their waistline.

Ø  Make sure pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will be resting on your child’s back.

Ø  Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps; this will help them avoid neck and upper back muscle spasm from the weight shift that happens from a one strap carrying posture.

Ø  Wide padded straps are important, so they don’t dig into your child’s shoulders.

Ø  If your child’s backpack still seems to heavy, talk to their teacher, and ask if they could leave heavy books and materials at school, or try to utilize online textbooks if the school has them available.


When in doubt, your local chiropractor is a great resource for analysis of your child’s backpack. They can suggest the correct brand, and style to best fit your child’s posture, size and weight. They can also perform light, gentle adjustments to your child’s spine to correct some of the postural issues that have already begun from their backpack wearing. Keeping their spine in line is the best way to combat the stress of heavy backpacks. 

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