“Strapping on the backpack” is a
daily ritual for students who struggle to stuff and carry the
necessities of school: Books, binders and supplies, alongside their
sports gear, food and drinks. Research indicates that there are
long-term health risks associated with youth who wear poorly designed
backpacks or carry too much weight. In fact, over 50% of Canadian youth will suffer at least one back pain episode during their school years.
Not only are these injuries painful, they can directly impact the
enjoyment of leisure and sports activities that are critical part of a
young person’s life.
The British Columbia Chiropractic Association has provided us with the “Pack it Light. Wear it Right” backpack safety program to drastically reduce the risk of injury and support your child’s physical development.
BACKPACK SAFETY TIPS
Elementary students should not carry more than 10% of their body
weight. (eg. If your child is 80 pounds, they shouldn’t carry more than
eight pounds- or the equivalent of a pair of shoes, a snack, drink and
- Backpacks should be made of the light materials. Vinyl and canvas are much better than leather.
- Backpacks with 2 straps distribute weight better than bookbags slung over the shoulder. Function over fashion!
top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the
shoulder and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.
- The shoulder straps should be at least 2 inches wide and not fit too snugly around the arms.
- A hip strap or waist belt can take as much as 50-70% of the weight off the shoulders and spine.
- Students should pack heavy items closest to the body.
- Using both straps is
critical - slinging the pack on one side causes the spine to lean,
increasing the likelihood of back problems that can worsen later in
- The best way to put on a pack is to place it on a desk or table at waist height and then slip it on. Avoid twisting!