Pack It Light, Wear It Right: Safe Backpack Practices

Pack It Light, Wear It Right: Safe Backpack Practices

As we inch closer to the school year and before you complete all of your back-to-school shopping, we urge you to consider the following safe backpack practices. More overuse spine injuries have been diagnosed in children and teens in the past few years. Many people in the spine health community believe that some of these injuries may be the result of using backpacks incorrectly.

Here at Nebraska Spine Hospital, we ask parents to keep this phrase in mind when considering safe backpack practices: Pack it light, wear it right.

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Pack It Light

An overloaded backpack can stress your child’s spine, which is trouble at any age, but especially at a younger age. A child’s backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of their body weight. That means if your child weighs 70 pounds, their backpack shouldn’t exceed 7 pounds. 

In addition to keeping the backpack at a reasonable weight, how you pack the bag matters too. Always place the heaviest items toward the back of the bag, so they’ll be closest to your child’s spine when they’re carrying it. And aim to go through the bag on a daily basis. Doing so will help keep unnecessary clutter from weighing down the bag.

If all else fails and you can’t seem to keep the weight under 10% of your child’s body weight, a wheeling backpack may be the answer.

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Wear It Right

Now that you have the bag packed correctly, it’s time to talk about how to wear the bag correctly. First and foremost, the backpack needs to be the correct size for your child. There’s a reason backpacks aren’t one-size-fits-all. For optimal fit, adjust the shoulder straps of the backpack so that it snugly rests on your child’s back. Additionally, the bottom of the bag should align with the small of their back.

One of the most important lessons to instill in your child is to wear both shoulder straps at all times. When only one strap is worn, it strains their muscles and can stress the spine.

Now that you’ve learned all about safe backpack practices, it’s time to put them into action. Since 80% of people will experience back pain in their lifetime, starting preventative measures at an early age is key.

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