Heavy Backpacks: Do Your Kids Do One Shoulder or Two?

Cynthia Dermody
16
toy story backpack

Photo by aidensmomma508

Since my son is still in first grade, he's only toting a couple of pounds at most in his backpack: his folder with homework and assorted papers, lunch, which usually consists of a sandwich, some Oreos, a small bottled water, and a banana, and sometimes a library book.

I'm not worried about his back now but I will when he starts looking like those fifth graders with mountaineering equipment strapped to their backs. Some of those packs are bigger than they are! A group of researchers recently took MRIs of a group of tween-age students while they wore heavy backpacks, and were able to see the back damage occurring to the spine.

The packs were compressing the spinal disks and increasing their spinal curvature, both of which were related to back pain reported by the children. These children were all wearing their packs on both shoulders so the weight was evenly distributed. The curvature of the spine would have been even worse if they had been slinging the packs off one shoulder, like many kids do.

Experts say children should tote no more than 10 to 15 percent of their own body weight in their bags, but many children routinely carry 20 or even 30 percent of their weight in books, gadgets, and you name it.

Some CafeMoms say they've purchased rolling book bags for their kids, but a lot of schools ban them because they don't want the kids dragging dirt and snow into the school.

One mom had a great tip:

Spend the money and buy your kids quality backpacks from the sporting goods department. These are designed for heavy loads and comfort, so they'll be kinder to your child's back.

Do you make your child carry his backpack on both shoulders, or does he insist on slinging it to one side? Are you worried he carries too much?

 

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