Dr. Bell's Blog

Backpack Safety: What You Need To Know


First off, what happened to the summer?  Just the fact I am talking about backpack safety, means school is right around the corner. It is amazing how fast the time goes!  With that being said, making sure your child stays safe and healthy this coming school year is always of the highest priority for parents.  Unfortunately when it comes to backpacks, it is not uncommon to see kids lugging around what appears to be virtually half their body weight to and from school. This can cause some serious damage to their spine. 

Regularly carrying a heavy backpack often leads to poor posture, and excess strain on your spinal column.  This will eventually lead to a variety of problems including pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. Regular strain of this type can eventually lead to significant nerve damage. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that your child's backpack weigh no more than 10-15% of their body weight.  Most children have backpacks that far exceed that percentage.  

How To Choose The Right Backpack

  • Buy The Right Size:  The backpack should not be any wider or longer than your child's torso. 
  • Comfort Features:  Padding for both the shoulders and back help reduce pressure in those areas.
  • Hip and Chest Belts:  These extra straps can go a long way towards making sure the weight of the pack stays centered on the hips and torso.
  • Multiple Compartments:  This is an important feature to allow you to pack it in such a way to evenly disperse the weight.

You can follow all of the above recommendations on purchasing the right backpack for your child, but if they don't wear it correctly, all is lost.  It may seem cool to them to sling that heavy pack over one shoulder, but the long term effects of that are not so cool.  Be sure your child is wearing both straps snug over the shoulder when carrying their backpack.  Most importantly, work on limiting the weight they have to carry.  Help them pack the bare essentials, and leave the rest at home.

Finally, all this chronic stress and strain on your child's spine can takes it's toll.  Be sure that you regularly get their spine checked at the chiropractor for structural and neurological problems as a result of not only backpack strain but also just being a kid.  Many problems I regularly see in adults have their roots traced back to when they were quite young. Regularly managing problems at a young age can not only help them live a healthier childhood, but can also help them when they are an adult to...

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