Can wearing a back pack cause a back injury?

Backpack Basics
Have you seen a child leaning to the left or right to support a heavy backpack on the opposite shoulder? If the load is too heavy it might cause the child to arch their back as well.

While it may seem a little far fetched, wearing a heavy backpack day-in and day-out over the course of months or years may increase the risk of spinal injury. Carrying heavy loads will cause your child to adopt compensatory and faulty postures. These compensatory postures cause undo strain on the neck, shoulder, and back soft tissues. Spine disks are compressed unevenly, more muscular energy is required which can lead to fatigue and possible soft tissue damage.

In 1999, more than 3,400 pupils between the age of 5 and 14 years went to emergency rooms for injuries related to backpacks according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

So how do you avoid back pain by backpack? Here are some simple backpack safety rules:

  1. Wear the backpack over the middle back, not high around the neck or low around the waist.
  2. Wear both straps. Don’t let your child carry the weight of the backpack on one shoulder.
  3. Minimize the contents in the backpack. The weight of the backpack should not exceed 10% of your child’s body weight.
  4. Keep the heavy objects closest to the body.

It is also important to recognize the backpack warning signs:

  1. Your child has difficulty lifting the backpack.
  2. Side bending, forward bent or arched spine postures to adapt to the weight of the backpack.
  3. Pain when wearing the backpack.
  4. Tingling or numbness.

Until Next Month,

Thanks from Sterling Carter, PT, MS, CSCS
Sterling Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation