Once again it’s back to school time. And your child is probably lugging their backpack to and from school. But if your child’s backpack looks like it’s packed for a week of camping rather than a day at school, your child is probably carrying way too much. Unfortunately a backpack that’s too heavy can cause some serious problems for your child.
Studies show over 90% of kids carry backpacks that weigh 10% to 22% of the child’s body weight. Ideally, the total weight of your child’s backpack should be between 10% and 15% of their body weight. For example, if your child weighs 100 lbs., their backpack should weigh no more than 15 lbs.
Backpacks that are too heavy can cause:
- Back and neck pain since the weight of bag pulls your child backward, so they have to bend forward or arch their back in order to keep the bag centered. This causes the spinal discs to compress, causing pain.
- Curvature of the lower spine – either to the right or left, especially if your child carries their bag on one shoulder.
- Spondylolysis, a stress fracture in the back from leaning backward too much.
- Poor posture due to continuously bending forward, arching their backs, and/or rolling their shoulders.
- Muscle strain and possible nerve damage in the neck from awkwardly tilting the head up when hunched over. Also neck and shoulder pain can occur from wearing their bag on one shoulder so they walk tilted to one side.
- Poor circulation and potential nerve damage from straps that are too tight or thin, causing them to dig into the child’s upper arms or shoulders. Your child may complain of tingling, numbness and/or weakness in the arms and hands as a result.
- Apophysitis, an inflammation of the growth cartilage, often in the heel of the foot.
While more research is needed, some experts believe that heavy backpacks can increase a child’s risk of spinal disorders and/or arthritis in their backs.
In general, kids suffer from more pain as the weight of their backpacks increase. Girls and small children have a greater risk of backpack-related injuries due to their size and carrying bags that are heavier compared to their body weight.
How to Lighten Their Load
Here are some tips to make sure your child is using a properly fitted backpack and to lessen their load.
- Choose a lightweight backpack with two wide, padded shoulder straps, a padded back for increased comfort, a waist belt and multiple compartments to help redistribute the weight more evenly.
- Buy a bag with wheels if the school allows it. Although if your child’s school has lots of stairs, a bag with wheels may not be much help. Plus, a bag with wheels may cause injuries to other children due to tripping or accidentally running into them with the bag.
- Teach your child the proper way to pick up and wear a heavy backpack. They should place the bag on a table or desk with the shoulder straps on top. Have them face backwards, bend their knees and lift the pack up onto their back with both hands. They should adjust the shoulder straps so the bag rests at the middle of their back.
- Make sure they use both shoulder straps and don’t carry the bag over one shoulder.
- Tell your kids to remove unnecessary items from their bag. They should only carry what they need that day for school.
- Encourage your kids to use all their backpack’s compartments. They should put books and other heavy items in the main compartment closest to the center of their back.
- Tell them to only bring home books and other items that they absolutely need for homework each night.
- Tell your child, while they are at school, to use their locker or desk to store items instead of carrying them around in their bag.
By following these tips, hopefully your child will avoid any pain or serious problems caused from carrying a backpack that’s too heavy.
ezWalker® Performance Insoles Can Help Relieve Pain
While custom orthotics probably won’t help if your child is carrying a backpack that’s too heavy, they can help if your child has foot pain. Often, foot problems are inherited. So, if your child is complaining about foot pain, it’s best to have their feet examined by a certified professional.
If arch supports, like ezWalker® Performance Insoles, are recommended, they can help your child’s feet function more efficiently while improving posture and balance. For more information on children’s foot orthotics, contact the WalkEzStore.com.
Because … when your children’s feet feel good, they feel good.