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  • Back to School: avoiding backpack-related back pain

    by Nicholas Rajacich, MD, Pediatric Orthopedist

    Binders, books, and laptops are heavy, and choosing the wrong style of backpack could increase the chance of your child’s book-bag causing them unnecessary back problems.

    Although backpacks can contribute to lower back pain when used improperly or using the wrong kind, cannot cause scoliosis or major spine issues.

    That being said, it is still important to wear and choose backpacks correctly so that your child does not develop easily avoided lower back problems down the road.

    Tips for Proper Usage

    Here are a few things for parents to remember when their child is using a backpack:

    · Help children avoid carrying too heavy a load. This applies to younger children especially. Encourage your kids to leave books they do not need in their locker at school.

    · Make sure your kids and teens are wearing their backpacks on BOTH shoulders so the weight is distributed evenly.

    · Consider purchasing a digital version of textbooks so students can carry one lightweight tablet rather than multiple heavy books. This applies more to high school and college age kids, as younger students generally have their books provided to them by the school.

    What to Look for

    If you’re shopping for a backpack, follow these three tips:

    · Try to find well-padded shoulder straps.

    · Look for one with a substantial build or structure. Avoid the flimsier models.

    · Make sure the portion of the backpack that rests against the back is more solid or padded so it evenly distributes pressure. This will also keep books from digging into your child’s back.

    Although carrying a full schedule’s worth of books is just a part of going to school, parents can help ease this burden from their children’s shoulders by taking these tips into consideration when picking out a backpack.


    Nicholas Rajacich, MD, is a pediatric orthopedist and orthopedic surgeon at MultiCare Mary Bridge Children's Health Center. Call 253-403-1507 to request an appointment.

    This story is part of a series of "Back-to-School Tips" from the experts at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center. Find more back-to-school tips and tricks in our online back-to-school center.

    Posted on Sep 7, 2013 in Kids' Health