Back-to-School Reminder: Don’t Pack on the Pounds
Students across the nation are going back to school this time of year, and 90 percent of them share one thing in common: wearing a backpack. However, UC San Diego experts say those students also share a common problem: low back pain due to overloaded backpacks. The standard set by the American Academy of Orthopedics suggests children carry a backpack weighing no more than 15 percent of their body weight.
“The pain generated from overloaded backpacks is not just in the back but also includes pressure on the skin, which causes pain similar to that tingling sensation caused when a leg or arm falls asleep,” says Dr. Alan Hargens, professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
The optimal position for wearing a backpack is high on the upper-back, with straps applied equally over both shoulders. Kids who wear their backpacks in the more ‘stylish’ lower back position, or only use one strap, may suffer shoulder pain and posture problems.
Other backpack safety tips include:
- Purchase backpacks with wide, padded straps
- Wear backpacks above the hips and maximize contact between the backpack straps and upper body
- If the backpack has a waist-strap, use it
- Students should consider only carrying the books they need for the day or class period, versus all books at one time
- Don’t bring extra items to school in backpacks (example: iPads and laptop computers)
- Use a rolling bag instead of a backpack