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Kids’ backpacks and avoiding back pain

Kids’ backpacks causing pain: tips for prevention


Rosemary Marchese – Physiotherapist

Is your child’s backpack looking like the size of a minivan? Yes? Well, they’re not alone. It’s amazing what kids can fit into backpacks these days and I’m seeing more and more kids complaining of neck and back pain as a result.

Injuries caused by backpacks are usually just what you would expect. There is shoulder and back pain, muscle spasms and sometimes even tripping injuries. Lower back pain and exaggerated pain for those with scoliosis, is also a major concern.

Why is injury happening?

For starters, many kids are refusing to use lockers, or lockers may not be available to them. This means they are carrying around a bag for a greater part of the day. Additionally the bags are often very heavy, with lunch boxes, textbooks and sometimes even instruments and sports clothes packed into them. Some kids are often heading straight to after school activities with their bags in tow. This can be more typical of older children, who catch buses from school straight to after school sport or music lessons, for example.

Tips for preventing backpack pain in kids

  1. Encourage the use of lockers wherever possible.
  2. Get your child to wear their backpack properly, making sure the backpack is close to the body and not dragging the body down.
  3. Minimise the load in the bag where possible.

Don’t ignore your child’s complaints of pain. Get this seen to as quickly as possible. And don’t forget to take the backpack to the physiotherapy appointment to get some advice on how to carry the backpack.