Backpack Safety Tips

Posted by: Dr. Jessica L. Caruso

Think carrying a backpack is “no big deal”? Think again. The average child’s backpack weighs 12 pounds and gets lifted 10 times a day. That equals 120 pounds lifted each day. That works out to be about 21, 600 pounds lifted in a 180-day school year!!!

How exactly does carrying a backpack affect the spine? Common sense tells us that a heavy load distributed unevenly day after day causes stress to a growing spinal column. More than 50% of youths experience at least one low back pain episode by the end of their teen years. Repetitive activities such as hauling a heavy backpack over one shoulder each and every day can lead to serious postural misalignments and imbalances, creating subluxations of the spinal column. These subluxations may cause nerve interference, which can lead to a variety of symptoms and decrease a child’s immune response.

Carrying a heavy backpack in which weight is improperly distributed can result in poor posture; spinal column distortion; muscle strain; headaches; back, neck and arm pain; and nerve damage.

Proper lifting techniques are extremely important. The following is proper backpack lifting technique and should be demonstrated to your child:

Face the backpack before you lift it

Bend at the knees

Using both hands, check the weight of the pack

Lift with legs, NOT your back

Carefully slip on one shoulder strap at a time

NEVER sling the pack on one shoulder

Packing your child’s backpack properly can decrease strain on the spinal column:

Pack the heaviest objects close to the body

Place bumpy objects on the outside, away from the back

Having your child checked regularly by a chiropractor to remove subluxations and insure proper posture during the growing years is very important. Remember, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

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