It is estimated that nearly 40 million U.S. students will carry a backpack this school year. With backpack use among children so widespread, how can parents ensure that their children stay safe and healthy while carrying their load? Just how heavy should your child’s backpack be? How can you tell if your child’s backpack is too heavy? Could carrying a heavy backpack cause health problems for your child?
How Heavy Should Your Child’s Backpack Be: Why All the Concern?
So is this just another one of those unnecessary concerns that modern parents fret about? On the contrary, heavy backpacks can and do cause serious and sometimes lifelong injury to children. A recent survey of children who use backpacks by the Backpack Intelligence Program found startling results. Almost 3/4 of the students polled reported experiencing three or more of the warning signs that their backpack was too heavy.
How Heavy Should Your Child’s Backpack Be: Signs Backpack is Too Heavy
Does your child complain of back pain? Does he walk bent over to try and carry the heavy load in his backpack? Could your child’s backpack be too heavy? Shelley A. Goodgold, a physical therapist who developed the Backpack Intelligence Program to raise awareness of how backpacks can cause injuries in children, offers parents several signs they can look for to determine if their child’s backpack is too heavy. If your child struggles in putting on or taking off their backpack chances are it’s too heavy for them. Also, if you child experiences any pain while carrying their backpack, tingling or numbness, red marks on the pressure points of their back or you notice changes in their posture a heavy backpack may be to blame.
How Heavy Should Your Child’s Backpack Be: Professional Weight Recommendations
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has introduced some guidelines to help parents make sure their children avoid injury from carrying a backpack that is too heavy. A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 15% of their total body weight. That means if your child weighs 100 pounds, their backpack should weigh no more than 15 pounds. If you have a question about whether or not your child’s backpack is within safe weight limits, get out that bathroom scale and do the calculations.
How Heavy Should Your Child’s Backpack Be: Medical Problems Caused by Heavy Backpacks
Backpacks that are too heavy can cause a whole host of medical problems. During the many growth spurts of childhood and adolescence, bones and the tissues of the body are especially susceptible to injury. Carrying a backpack that is too heavy can cause a curvature of the spine, inflammation of growth cartilage (apophysitis), permanent changes to posture, compression injuries, nerve damage, stress fractures in the spine (spondylolysis), muscle fatigue, chronic low level trauma to the shoulders, neck and back and impaired shock absorption.
How Heavy Should Your Child’s Backpack Be: What Can Parents Do?
So what can parents do to help lighten their child’s backpack load? Have your child use a backpack with two wide padded shoulder straps. Teach your child how to properly pack their backpack. Make sure your child knows and follows proper backpack carrying techniques. Parents can also have their child use a backpack with wheels. Parents should monitor and periodically weigh their child’s backpack load. Talk with your child about how and why it’s important to keep the weight in their backpack within safe limits.
Children’s Hospital Boston
Backpack Intelligence:Implementation of a Backpack Safety Program with Fifth Grade Students
The American Occupational Therapy Association