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Back to School: Avoiding pack-related back pain

Posted on Aug 11, 2014 ( comments)

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

Although backpacks can contribute to lower back pain if they're the wrong kind or are used improperly, they cannot cause scoliosis or major spinal issues.

That being said, it is still important to choose the right backpack so your child does not develop avoidable 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 school locker
  • 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 by the school.

What to look for

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

  • Look for well-padded shoulder straps
  • Check for substantial build or structure; avoid the flimsier models
  • Make sure the portion of the pack that rests against the back is more solid or padded, so it evenly distributes pressure. This also keeps 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 the burden from their children’s shoulders by taking these tips into consideration when picking out a backpack.

This story is part of a series of back to school tips from the experts at Mary Bridge. It was originally published in September 2013 and updated in August 2014.

Related stories

Read more in our online Back-to-School Guide.

About The Author

Dr. Nicholas Rajacich
Nicholas Rajacich, MD, is a pediatric orthopedist and orthopedic surgeon at MultiCare Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center.
More stories from Dr. Nicholas
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