Chiropractors and pediatricians both acknowledge that bookbags are a concern for a youngster’s spine. Though a backpack alone might not trigger significant troubles, overfilling and incorrectly wearing a bookbag could result in headaches, neck, shoulder, and lower back injury. According to research released in the medical journal Spine, “Of the 1,122 backpack users, 74% were classified as having back pain, validated by significantly poorer general health, more limited physical function, and more bodily pain.”

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Although healthcare experts do not concur about the precise heaviness, the consensus is that a student hauling greater than 10 percent of his or her body weight risks back and neck pain; and a student shouldering greater than 15 percent can endure serious back, neck and shoulder pain, headaches and other spinal conditions; as well as worsen pre-existing spinal problems like scoliosis. So parents must know that their 60-pound youngster should be toting no more than 9 pounds; the 80-pound kid, 12 pounds; and the 100-pound student, no greater than 15 pounds.

It’s critical for parents to weigh their child’s bookbag weekly. A backpack crammed with that unneeded textbook, notebook, or digital gadget could quickly amount to an unwanted 10 pounds. Parents should also show their children the need to pack and wear their bookbags correctly. The heaviest materials must lay facing the back, therefore packing these first and trying to spread the load equally.

Though the student might downplay hauling his or her pack slung across one shoulder, the reality is that this trend is crippling to the growing backbone. Whenever lugging a backpack on one side only, one shoulder is expected to bear a load that both shoulders and the back ought to share together. The one correct manner to wear a bookbag is using both straps around the shoulders and the pack directly against the lower back.

So here are the requirements for a well-designed bookbag: first, that the bag fit correctly (not too long or too short); and second, that it offer broad, cushioned, versatile shoulder straps (for ideal fit). Another feature is to seek out a bag with a waist belt. The waist belt, when used, will deliver a part of the load to the hips, lessening the burden for the spine and shoulders. While searching, parents must reason that the extra components of the bookbag they purchase will reduce the spinal strain for their child.

Are roller bags the answer? Though someone may imagine that the roller bag is the remedy for this dilemma (by removing weight from the student’s back), it should be heeded that an unfilled roller bag can weigh around 80 percent greater than an unfilled backpack. Roller bags run bigger, as well, tricking the student into overfilling the additional room with up to 50 pounds. While such bags can be rolled, remember that the youngster (and his or her growing spine) is nevertheless vulnerable whenever hoisting it up and down steps or fetching the bag out of the rear seat of the car.

So, as you prepare your kids for this school year, take pause and reflect on “function first.”


Reprinted from the San Dimas Community News