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Eye on Education

It’s Probably Not Healthy for Your Kid to Lug Around that Ridiculously Heavy Backpack


Carrying heavy backpacks on a daily basis can lead to lifelong back pain, ideastream’s Sarah Jane Tribble reports.

And heavy backpacks can cause other problems too, like “repetitive stress syndrome:”

“When a child wears his backpack for five minutes running from the bus back into the house, that’s really not going to do any damage to their low back or their neck and that’s same thing with a factory worker, the first time they are doing their specific line job, that’s not where the injury happens. It’s where they continue to do that day after day or year after year,” Cleveland Clinic chiropractor Andrew Bang says.

One recent study of 62 children aged 8-11 found that children who carried backpacks weighing up to 20 percent of their body weight reported neck, shoulder, and mid back pain and changes in their posture.

The effects of carrying heavy backpacks may even be worse for children with special needs, the study’s authors suggested. If it takes a child longer to walk to class, for example, that student may experience more pain because he or she must carry a heavy backpack for a longer period of time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a backpack never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of a child’s body weight.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends:

  • Choosing a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back
  • Placing heavier items closest to the center of the back
  • Always using both shoulder straps rather than slinging a backpack over one shoulder
  • Considering a rolling backpack, if a child’s school allows them.

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