Is backpack safety a real concern?

  • There are 19 million doctor visits every year because of backpacks.
  • There has been a 330% rise in emergency room visits from 1996 to 2000 due to backpacks.
  • A study reported in the medical journal Lancet found that almost 35% of children carry more than 30% of their body weight at least once a week.
  • 2% of those subjects suffered muscle soreness, 50.8% suffered back pain, 24.5% suffered numbness, and 14.7% suffered shoulder pain.

The same study went on to say that the daily physical stresses associated with carrying the backpack on one shoulder significantly alters posture and gait.

To minimize negative effects of using a backpack follow these guidelines:

  1. It is recommended that children carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in their backpacks. If you see your child struggle to get his backpack on or off , or if they must lean forward while wearing it they are carrying too much weight.
  2. Choose a light weight backpack with wide and padded shoulder straps.
  3. Use both shoulder straps, do not carry backpacks on just one shoulder.
  4. If your backpack has a waist strap use this to distribute the weight more evenly.
  5. If your backpack has multiple compartments use them to evenly distribute the weight within the backpack. Put books and heavy objects in the middle and surround them with lighter weight objects. Do not carry unnecessary items in your backpack.