Tips to avoid spinal injury
Your child may tell you that slinging that fully loaded backpack over one shoulder is cool, but it’s an invitation for spinal injury. It is extremely important that children do not carry excessive loads regularly during their formative years. Unhealthy spinal stress can predispose children to chronic spinal complaints later on in life.
What to Buy
- Select a backpack with well-padded shoulder straps to help protect the shoulders and neck. These straps should be adjusted so the pack fits snugly against your child’s back. A pack hanging loosely from the back can pull a child backward and cause subluxations (spinal misalignments) in the spine
- Select a smaller backpack for your younger child. The backpack itself should be light in weight.
- Consider a pack with a waist belt to help distribute the weight of the pack evenly.
How to Carry It Safely
- A loaded backpack should weigh between 10 and 15% of a child’s body weight, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. For example, a child weighing 100 pounds shouldn’t carry more than 15 pounds.
- Help your child learn to carry the pack evenly weighted with straps over each shoulder. Place heavier items, like books, at the bottom and arrange other materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
- Encourage your child to check the contents daily and leave unnecessary items at home or at school.
- Show your child how to bend at the knees when putting on a backpack. She shouldn’t bend over at the waist when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack.
- Bring your child in for a spinal evaluation to check for subluxations (spinal misalignments), especially if your child complains of neck or low back pain.
-Dr. Leif Olson