Back to School Back Pain: Ergonomics for children (and grown-ups too!)

Child with Heavy School Homework Book BagPediatricians, physical therapists, and massage therapists are seeing more young patients complaining of back and neck pain. The culprit is often overloaded backpacks.

Backpack weight:
According to the American Chiropractic Association, backpack weight is contributing to pain earlier than in previous generations. By 4th or 5th grades, children are packing textbooks and instuments as well as cell phones, iPods and even lap tops.

Backpack guidelines:
You can help your child strategize about how to prevent or recover from injury and pain from carrying too much weight.

1) Limit backpack weight to 15% of your child’s weight. If your child weighs 75 pounds, the maximum backpack weight should be 10 pounds. If 125 pounds, your child should carry 18 pounds or less.

2) Use a backpack with wide straps, and wear it on both shoulders.

3) Only pack what is necessary. Maybe they don’t need to carry all their books every day.

4) If they have a locker, they can leave the books they aren’t using until needed. If they don’t have one, a second copy of textbooks could be left at home.

5) A backpack on wheels could be a good option.

Grown-ups, you may also be busily moving around- from home to work to school or the gym with a backpack, laptop case or messenger bag slung over your shoulder. Use the guidelines above to prevent injury and pain as you go about your daily activities this fall.

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