Skip to main content

How To Prevent and Relieve Back Pain From Backpacks

Written By All Seasons Integrative Health on May 1, 2019

Back Pain in School Kids Who Are Carrying Backpacks

Backpack back pain in kids is on the rise.  While back pain is a known issue in adults, its prevalence in school-aged children has received little scientific attention. Elementary, middle, and high school students most often carry backpacks that weigh enough to cause chronic back pain, poor posture, and even decreased lung volume. Recently, several studies reveal the truths behind childhood back pain and ways to relieve it.

Are Backpacks Too Heavy for Kids?

Recent research supports that children carrying backpack loads of more than ten percent of their body weight are at a greater risk of developing backpack back pain and related issues. A global study found that a large proportion of school-aged children regularly carried backpacks weighing more than the ten percent threshold.

In another study involving 1540 urban school-aged children, over a third of the children reported back pain. In addition to carrying heavy backpacks, female students and those diagnosed with scoliosis had a greater occurrence of back pain. Children with access to lockers reported less pain.

The number of straps on the backpack had little impact on the respondents' answers. Children also reported limited physical activity due to back pain, and some took medication to relieve the pain.

Girls who carried purses in addition to wearing a backpack reported greater back pain. Adolescents with back pain spent more time watching television than their peers. Over 80 percent of those surveyed believed that carrying a heavy backpack caused their back pain.

Proper Backpack Carrying Techniques

The studies show several factors that may help reduce backpack back pain in school-aged children. The best way to prevent backpack back pain is to avoid carrying heavy loads.

Children should take advantage of locker breaks and only carry items necessary for a couple of classes at a time. When lifting a backpack, children should squat down and bend their knees rather than bend their spine.

While not conclusive, research also supports that carrying the weight differently, such as by hand rather than by backpack, may help prevent or reduce back pain. The American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Chiropractic Association offer these additional safe backpack etiquette tips:

  • Children should avoid carrying over 10 percent of their body weight in their backpack. For example, an 8th-grader weighing 120 pounds should carry no more than 12 pounds.
  • Place the heaviest objects at the back of the pack closest to the child's back.
  • Make sure the items fit as snugly as possible to minimize back pain due to shifting weight.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so they fit snugly over your child's shoulders and the backpack doesn't pull your child backward. The bottom of the pack should be less than four inches below your child's waist.
  • Children should avoid carrying backpacks slung over one shoulder, as it can cause spinal pain and general discomfort.
  • Encourage your child to carry only necessary items in their backpack. Additional items can be carried in hand.
  • Look for backpacks with helpful features such as:
    • multiple compartments for even weight distribution,
    • padded straps to protect the shoulders and neck,
    • and waist belt.
  • If your child's school allows, consider a roller pack, which rolls across the floor like a suitcase.
  • If problems continue, talk to your child's teacher or principal about implementing paperback textbooks, lighter materials, or digital versions.

Chiropractic Care Can Help

If your child continues to experience backpack back pain, contact your local chiropractor. Chiropractic care benefits many adults with back and body discomfort, and licensed practitioners can provide tailored treatments for children.

Chiropractors can also recommend safe exercises to improve back & body strength.  Most chiropractors can also give additional advice on proper nutrition to build strong bones and joints, healthy posture, and more. If your child has back or body pain from carrying a backpack, contact us or schedule an appointment. We're here to help!

Dr. Paul Bekkum

Dr. Paul Bekkum leads the team of health care professionals at All Seasons Full Body Chiropractic Center in Fargo, North Dakota. His life's mission is to help people live active and healthy lives. Dr. Bekkum believes that pain doesn't have to be a life-long sentence. By focusing on a person's whole body, Dr. Bekkum can help detect, correct, and prevent health problems. Born and raised in River Falls, WI, Dr. Bekkum attended the University of Wisconsin - River Falls then graduated from Northwestern College of Chiropractic in 1992. In addition to being a Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Paul Bekkum is a Certified Chiropractic Extremity Practitioner and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology. Dr. Bekkum is a team chiropractor for the NDSU Rodeo team, NDSU Equestrian team, and NDSU Marksmanship team.

The post How To Prevent and Relieve Back Pain From Backpacks appeared first on All Seasons Full Body Chiropractic Center, LLC.

Posted In: Chiropractic Back Pain Backpack