Don’t overload kids’ backpacks

Photo credit: dr burtoni on Flickr

In the workplace, people who lift heavy loads should be careful to avoid overexertion injuries – and the same thing goes for kids carrying heavy backpacks.

For workers, WorkSafeBC offers a Lift/Lower Calculator to determine safe load limits. Kids, as a rule, should not carry more than 10 to 15 percent of their own body-weight in their backpacks.

But maybe some people don’t realize this, because I see lots of kids heading back to school wearing great, big backpacks. It seems like they are toting much more than I ever did at that age – and sadly, this can lead to chronic back problems later in life, according to a investigation in The Tribune (and many other articles on this important topic).

“When the development of the muscular system is messed up that can lead to having bad posture,” chiropractor Jacqueline Lightbourn told The Tribune. “Bad posture is the main contributor to low back pain, arthritis, disc problems and anything to do with the back, neck, and mid-back.”

Students need to stop transporting so many heavy things – and I’d like to see their parents, schools, and caregivers helping to coordinate this. People can brainstorm solutions and arrangements can be made.

Choosing the right backpack

The American Academy of Pediatric Surgeons recommends these features in a backpack:

* Wide, padded shoulder straps
* Two shoulder straps
* Padded back
* Waist strap
* Lightweight backpack
* Rolling backpack

For more information on choosing and using backpacks, check out:

Pack it Light, Wear it Right – includes a poster, pamphlets and fact sheets for distribution to children and parents (that can be customized for individual school districts) from the BC Chiropractic Association

BACK FACTS: Backpacks from the Canadian Chiropractic Association

Lightening the Load: Tips for Backpack Safety from Canadian Chiropractor magazine

Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students from The American Occupational Therapy Association


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *