What to do to avoid a heavy backpack

August 4, 2020 – As of today the plan is that our kids get to go back to school. They get to go back to a routine, to see their friends, and to carrying backpacks. This last point becomes even more important this year. The kids will have to carry all their items in their backpack to the classroom each day. This means that these back packs will likely be heavier than normal, but how heavy is too heavy.

Research states that a backpack should not weigh more than 20% of your body weight, and preferably be closer to 10%. That means for a 60-pound grade school child, their backpack should no weigh more than 12 pounds, and should be closer to 6 pounds. It does not take long to get to 12 pounds once you get a few books, pencils, and a lunch in that backpack.

If a backpack is too heavy a child may have to compensate. They may lean forward while walking, hike up their shoulders to help support it, or arch their back. All of these can lead to back, neck or shoulder pain. They may prefer to only use one shoulder strap because it looks better or is quicker, but this extra weight on one side of the body can cause an imbalance in the muscles or an imbalance that may cause a fall. Both of these positions can lead to poor posture, which many of our kids already have due to technology (see previous blogs).

The straps of a back are carried across your clavicle. This is an area of the body where lots of nerves and vessels run. Compression of these areas can cause issues down our arms in the form of pain, temperature and sensation changes, and weakness.

Ways to help with these issues can be the following:

  • Using a lighter weight backpack
  • Helping your child organize to minimize the amount they need to carry
  • Making sure we are lifting with our legs and putting the backpack on and taking it off safely
  • Help them to make sure the backpack is fitted properly
  • Educating them on what “too heavy” is

These simple steps can help minimize the risk of any pain for your child. If these steps don’t work for you or if you have questions about what you have read please contact us in Louisville at 402-234-3333 or Plattsmouth 402-298-4747 for further information or a free consultation!

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References

  1. https://www.rei.com/blog/camp/how-much-should-your-pack-weigh#:~:text=A%20loaded%20backpacking%20pack%20should,percent%20of%20your%20body%20weight.
  2. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/backpack.html
  3. https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/child-safety/backpacks