57ºF

How backpack weight can damage spine health

“It exerts the pressure downward, down the spine, and puts pressure on the lowest disc,” Dr. Rosalyn Nguyen, a sports medicine physician at Baylor College of Medicine, said.

Nguyen said the weight of backpacks should directly correspond to your child's bodyweight.

“Over 10% of a child's body weight exerted too much pressure on the discs, and lead to more back pain,” Dr. Nguyen said, citing a pediatric study.

That means a 60 pound child should not have a bag heavier than six pounds in order to avoid tears on the lower discs of the spine, and keep pain away.

Nguyen said put the heavy books closest to your back, this prevents an imbalance of weight.

“If it's too heavy and they’re having trouble lifting it and swinging it on their back,” Nguyen warned, “I've had patients who have had sprains and injuries just by swinging on a heavy backpack to put it on.”

She said if you buy a smaller backpack it could help keep the load to a minimum.

Plus, she suggested one with padded straps and preferably a strap in the front for a better center of gravity.

“When you tighten up the straps, it keeps it closer to the body and does not sag down and exert more pressure into the back,” She said. “It should be shoulder height in the back and maybe a little bit under the shoulder, not more than 4 inches past the waist of the child.”

This can be a lot of weight for your kids body's to bear, Nguyen said this is when you can teach them the proper way to lift heavy objects: bend at the knees, keep a straight back, bring the pack in and then stand.