Like adults, children can suffer from back pain as a result of carrying heavy or mal-adjusted backpacks.
Children are often required to carry bags full of books and other equipment to and from school. When purchasing your child’s backpack, help your child to choose the smallest bag that will meet his/her needs. It might help you to look out for the following design features to help prevent the occurrence of back pain:
- Lightweight and sturdy material such as high quality canvas
- Two wide (about 2 inches) and padded adjustable shoulder straps
- Padded back
- Individualized compartments
- Hip and chest straps and frame to keep the load close to your child’s body and to prevent shifting of the bag during movement
Teach your child how to properly load, lift and wear the backpack to avoid back pain:
- To pack the bag so the heaviest items are closest to your child’s body
- To place any irregular or sharp items as far away to your child’s body as possible
- To always use both shoulder straps and wear the bag on the back rather than over one shoulder
- To adjust the shoulder straps so the backpack fits snuggly to your child’s body at the level of their waist (the backpack is not to be carried low/near the buttocks)
- To lift the backpack by using the leg muscles, bending the knees and keeping it close to the body
- Not to lean over when walking and carrying the backpack (this can be a sign that the bag is too heavy)
- To only carry needed items and make frequent trips to his/her locker during the day
- To regularly clean out the backpack
- If your child complains of pains or discomfort, reduce the weight in the backpack immediately.
If your child develops pain or discomfort and this does not resolve within a week, then you may want to contact me for an appointment. I will be taking a full case history and perform a physical examination of your child to try and determine what the trouble might be.
A sedentary lifestyle in childhood is known to contribute to the risk of developing back pain, as well as contributing to obesity and poor health in adulthood. Encourage your child to have an active lifestyle with plenty of physical exercise such as walking, running, cycling and swimming; which will help keeping his/her body strong and flexible.