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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

ABCs of School Backpacks

Oct 27, 2006 12:00AM

ABCs of School Backpacks

More than 40 million students head off to class each day with backpacks slung over their shoulders. About 20 million of those students are carrying twice the recommended weight on the back, which can lead to stress injuries and spinal pain that can worsen with age.

Here are some tips on how to minimize back injuries from school backpacks:


Allow wheels. Use a backpack on wheels. This type of backpack is helpful if a child is already symptomatic or if they will be carrying loads of more than 25 lbs.

Back to basics. Use the traditional style backpack. If you opt for this style, make sure the pack has two thick, padded straps along with a waist strap for added lumbar support.

Comfort counts. Don’t buy the first backpack kids see. It’s important to make sure the backpack feels comfortable to the child.

Don’t overload. Whatever backpack style parents choose, remember that the size of the pack should be proportionate to the child, not to the size of the items he will be carrying.

Everything is too much. Pack only what you need! Pack should weigh no more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight.

Fit your frame. Always use both straps and make sure to adjust them snugly on your shoulders.

Get organized. Organize the pack so the heavy items are closest to your back. Use smaller compartments to store loose items and distribute the weight evenly.

Heavy hurts! Don’t carry more than you can handle. Make frequent stops to unload. Encourage your child not to carry all the books he needs for the day.


Tips courtesy of the North American Spine Society. For more information, visit www.spine.org .