We tend to think of our children as healthier and sturdier than we are. But because they’re still growing, certain habits can harm their growth and development. One of the major contributing factors to alignment problems and back pain in children is a surprisingly commonplace item: Their backpack.

Improper use of a backpack can actually cause a number of problems that we typically associate with adults, such as…

  • Pain in the back, shoulders, and neck
  • Poor posture
  • Strained muscles (from overcompensation)
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms
  • Headaches
  • Reduced blood flow
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine

These problems can result from any of the following factors, or a combination of them: Choosing the wrong backpack, carrying too much weight in the backpack, or wearing the backpack incorrectly. These three tips can help you keep your child healthy and pain-free.

Choose the right backpack. Shop for a backpack that is designed for your child’s age and size. Look for one that has padded shoulder straps, at least two inches wide, and a strap that goes around the waist. Several compartments in the backpack will help you to pack it effectively, with weight distributed evenly.

Wear the backpack correctly. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the weight of the pack is kept close to the body, rather than pulling downward. Use the waist strap and teach your child not to bend and twist their back while wearing the backpack. Bend at the knees instead.

Pack the backpack wisely. Pack the heaviest items close to your child’s body so that weight is distributed correctly. Never expect your child to carry more than 15 percent of their body weight.

Of course, sometimes even the best planning doesn’t solve every problem. If your child is experiencing back pain, call our office to schedule an appointment so that we can get them feeling better soon.