Backpacks are a convenient and efficient way for children
to carry school books and other items, but if overloaded
or improperly worn they can harm children's backs, experts
"Wearing backpacks improperly or ones that are too
heavy put children at increased risk for spinal injury,"
Mary Ann Wilmarth, director of the transitional doctor
of physical therapy degree at Northeastern University
in Boston, said in a prepared statement.
"Back pain is already the most common ailment among
working American adults. If we don't correct the backpack
issues that are causing children back pain, the issue
will become magnified in years to come," Wilmarth
She offers the following advice for safe backpack
- Use both straps. Using just one strap means
that one side of the body has to bear the entire
weight of the backpack. Wearing both straps means
that the weight is more evenly distributed.
- Load up with care. When taking backpacks
on and off, kids should keep their torsos stable
and avoid excessive twisting. Shoulder straps should
be adjusted so that the child can easily put on
and take off the backpack and have free movement
of their arms.
- Don't go too low. The backpack should be
worn over the strongest mid-back muscles and rest
evenly in the middle of the back. It should not
extend below the lower back.
- Stay light. Keep the backpack load at just
10 percent to 15 percent or less of a child's weight.
Heaviest items should be placed closest to the back
in order to reduce risks for postural misalignment
and overworked muscles.
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