Backpack Safety

Save the neck and back by learning about Backpack safety

A heavy backpack can lead to shoulder pain, back pain, headaches, and neck pain if carried improperly. Humans are born with 33 moveable vertebrae, which make up the spine and support the majority of your body weight. When an extra stress is placed on the spine it can exceed its ability to support and stabilize and a spinal imbalance and injury can occur. A heavy backpack can cause a child to compensate by either bending forward or to the side, compressing the spine. Over time, this compensation can lead to a permanent change in posture and muscle strains.

Here are some spine-saving tips on backpacks!

  1. Your child’s backpack should never exceed 10-15% of his or her body weight.
  2. Pack heavier items closest to the back and distribute the weight evenly in each pocket.
  3. Tighten the straps to keep the backpack close to the body NOT extending below the low back.
  4. Wear both shoulder straps. Using only one strap can cause extra muscle tension on the shoulder, back, and neck.
  5. The thicker the padding the better. Padded shoulder straps help prevent the straps from digging into your child’s shoulders, back, and neck. This can interfere with circulation and nerve function that can cause numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and hands.

Warning signs a backpack is too heavy!

  1. Change in posture when wearing the backpack.
  2. Struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack.
  3. Pain when wearing the backpack.
  4. Red marks.
  5. Numbness and tingling

According to a survey conducted by the North American Spine Society, 42.6% of NASS physicians had treated children and teens suffering from back pain or spine trauma caused by improper use of backpacks.