Back to School with Backpack Safety

by TOI Admin August 12, 2013

With the new school year beginning, choosing the correct backpack for your child can be an important decision. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, backpacks are designed to distribute the weight of the load among some of the body’s strongest muscles, but when worn incorrectly, backpacks can cause serious problems for children and teenagers.

Choosing the Right Backpack
When choosing a backpack, look for one that is appropriate for the size of your child. In addition, look for some of the following features:

Wide, padded shoulder straps

Two shoulder straps

Padded back

Waist strap

Lightweight backpack

Rolling backpack

Injury Prevention
To prevent injury when using a backpack, do the following:

Always use both shoulder straps to keep the weight of the backpack better distributed across the child's back

Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the back

Pack light: Kids should carry no more than 15 to 20% of their body weight

Organize the items: pack heavier things low and towards the center

Remove items if the backpack is too heavy: carry only those items that are required for the day, and if possible, leave unnecessary books at home or school

Lift properly by bending at the knees when picking up a backpack

Build muscle strength

Tips for Parents
Parents also can help.

Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about numbness, tingling, or discomfort in the arms or legs which may indicate poor backpack fit or too much weight being carried.

Watch your child put on or take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle. If the backpack seems too heavy for the child, have them remove some of the books and carry them in their arms to ease load on the back.

Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager.

Talk to the school about lightening the load. Team up with other parents to encourage changes.

Be sure the school allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day to drop off or exchange heavier books.

If your child has back pain that does not improve, consider buying a second set of textbooks to keep at home.


For more information on backpack safety, please read the full article at:

Image source:

Back to School Safety: Avoid Pain from Heavy Backpacks

by TOI Admin August 29, 2011


Tips to steer clear of injuries from backpacks
It’s that time of the year! Students are officially returning back to the classroom and hitting the books as the new school year kicks off. Along with a student’s busy schedule, a backpack filled with books, binders, lunches, laptops, iPods and gym clothes can easily pack on the pounds and lead to improper fit, causing back strain and pain to a child’s back.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010, nearly 28,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices and emergency rooms for backpack-related injuries including strains, sprains, dislocations and fractures.


To avoid pain and discomfort caused from heavy backpacks, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following safety tips:


• Always use both shoulder straps to keep the weight of the backpack better distributed.
• Tighten the straps and use waist strap if the bag has one.
• Remove or organize items if too heavy and place biggest items closest to the back.
• Lift properly and bend at the knees to pick up a backpack.
• Carry only those items that are required for the day.
• Encourage you child or teenager to tell you about pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy backpack, like numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.
• Purchase a backpack appropriate for the size of your child and look for any changes in your child’s posture when they wear the backpack.
• Watch your child put on or take off the backpack to see if your child or teenager expresses discomfort.
• Talk to the school about lightening the load. Keep the load at 10-15 percent or less
of the child’s bodyweight.
For more information about backpack safety, please visit AAOS at:
Photo and Image Credits: Photostock


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TOI's Blog is dedicated to patient education with topics addressing current issues in health and medicine. We will also blog about some of our other favorite things, like community events, our wonderful employees, helping the environment and whatever else comes to our minds! We hope the information contained in our blog is fun to read, assists you in making educated decisions regarding your health, and supports your decision to select TOI when you are in need of quality musculoskeletal care.


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