You may not have given this a lot of thought, but making a smart choice about your child’s backpack can be an important part of a happy back-to-school experience.  Wearing a backpack that is not properly adjusted or is too heavy for your child can lead to poor posture and injury, including neck pain, mid back pain, low back pain, headaches and even nerve damage.

I’ve put together a quick list to get you headed in the right direction:

1) Choose the Right Pack

  • Look for a back pack made of lightweight material, such as canvas or vinyl.  Leather bags can be heavy and add unnecessary weight.
  • Pick a bag with two wide and adjustable shoulder straps, and a waist belt.  This allows the weight to be distributed evenly across the back.
  • Look for packs with multiple pockets to distribute the weight, rather than one large pocket.  You’re your child how to keep smaller, lighter things in the smaller pockets.
  • Choose a pack with a padded back to provide additional comfort.
  • Make sure the bag is proportionate to your child’s body size.  The bag should be the same width as your child’s shoulders and back.  It should sit between the top of the hips and the top of the shoulders.  Once packed, the bag should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline.

2) How to Pack Properly

  • The heaviest items, like textbooks or electronics, should be packed closest to the back. The lighter or smaller things can be distributed in the additional pockets.
  • The total load of the bag should not be heavier than 10-15% of your child’s weight.  It’s helpful to weigh the bag to see how heavy it is – you may be surprised when you do!
  • Talk to your child’s teacher to make sure that they aren’t bringing anything unnecessary home from school.  Too many textbooks can easily add to the weight.

3) How to Lift the Pack

  • When bending to lift up the backpack, it is important to remember to bend at the knees and use the strength of the arms and legs to lift.
  • It may help to place the backpack on a table or chair first and then put it on from there.

If you have any questions or would like to have your child’s spinal health assessed, I would be happy to help!  Please call the office at 416-760-9424.

Yours in Good Health,

Dr. Randi Joy