Zachary D. Campbell, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham
2020 has been a strenuous year for everyone, including school-age children.
Spring started with a virtual learning experience and many started the
2020-2021 school year still learning virtually from home.
However, many school districts have reopened on a part-time basis with
a hybrid schedule. With students returning to school, they have been able
to break out their new backpacks to lug school supplies, books, and lunch
boxes to and from school. Additionally, most students are now lugging
laptops or Chromebook computers along with other supplies in backpacks.
Unfortunately, the added weight from a laptop puts extra strain on a student’s
back and body.
Most experts agree it is time to lighten the load of your child’s
backpack. A heavy backpack can cause numerous problems in developing children.
Neck, back, and shoulder problems can be a common issues caused by a heavy
backpack, which can also lead to bad posture.
American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends a backpack weigh no more than 5-10% of your child’s weight.
Teach your child to load a backpack with the heaviest items first closest
to the bottom and the center of the back of the backpack and to make use
of the multiple compartments to distribute the load.
7 Ergonomic Backpack Features
The National Safety Council, when selecting a backpack, look for:
- An appropriate size: A backpack should not be wider than your child's
torso or hang more than 4 inches below the waist
- Padded, adjustable shoulder straps to help distribute the weight on your
child’s back without digging into their shoulders
- Padded back to protect against contents inside the backpack poking into
your child’s back
- Waist and chest straps to help distribute the weight of the backpack more
evenly across your child’s back
- Multiple compartments to help position the weight more effectively
- Compression straps to stabilize the contents
- Reflective material to allow your child to be seen when walking to and
How to Use a Backpack Correctly
Check the fit of the backpack:
- Make sure your child uses both straps when carrying the backpack; using
one strap shifts the weight to one side and causes muscle pain and posture problems
- Make certain the shoulder straps are tightened so the backpack is fitted
to your child’s back; a dangling backpack can cause spinal misalignment and pain
- Encourage your child to use the chest, waist and compression straps, and
to adjust them to the load
Parents and caregivers, pick up your child’s backpack from time to
time, and let your children know you've got their back. Help your
children determine what is absolutely necessary to carry to and from school,
and teach them that proper backpack use will help their growing bodies
in the long run.
Remember, to prevent back pain, get smart about backpack safety –
wear it light, wear it right. Metzger Wickersham wishes all students a
pain-free school year!