Back to school means back to backpack back pain
© 2014 Roy Benaroch, MD
(Yes, I know, I need an editor to help me write better headlines for these stories. Send in your application to our human resources department.)
From researchers in Spain, a simple, brief study confirms what you would have guessed: kids’ huge backpacks are hurting their backs.
A team collected data from about 1400 students in lovely Galicia, Spain (where I have decided I want to go on vacation, despite the hordes of back-injured children. I won’t tell them I’m a doc.) Those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% increased incidence of back pain. The risk was higher among girls.
There are a lot of pressures on kids these days. You’d think a huge backpack wouldn’t have to be one of them. There are some things parents might be able to do to mitigate this problem:
- See if you can access textbooks online—and if so, encourage your child to just leave his books at school rather than lugging them back and forth.
- If you can’t get online access, consider getting a second set of books to keep at home. You can probably buy them used on Ebay or Amazon, or maybe convince the school to give you a second set with a doctor’s note documenting back problems.
- If allowed, try a rolling backpack. Many schools discourage these because they gum up the overcrowded hallways.
- Use a backpack that fits right, with the straps tight enough to hold the weight high on the back. A high-quality backpack has wide, padded straps and is designed to keep the weight close to the body, not hanging down the back.
- Discourage the slouchy, single-shoulder carry. A backpack with a significant amount of weight is best carried on straps across both shoulders—or even better yet, with a belt across the lower belly that supports some weight on the hips.