How To Avoid Backpack Injuries in Children

Don’t let your child get a backpack injury

With the new school year in full swing, children are utilizing backpacks to tote their books and school supplies to and from school.

Does your child complain of back and shoulder pain when he or she returns home from school at the end of the day?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, thousands of backpack injuries ranging from strains to fractures are reported every year. Backpacks pose a major and serious back injury risk to children.

Reports indicate that when your child’s backpack is too heavy for his/her body, the child has a tendency to learn forward to compensate. By doing this, his/her spine is pulled into an uncomfortable and unnatural alignment.

What about those poorly designed backpacks? Some have straps that are too small and can dig into your child’s shoulders – pressing on the nerves. This can result in numbness, tingling or weakness. In addition, when your child slings his/her backpack over one shoulder it throws the child’s body off-balance – causing the child to learn unnaturally to one side.

It is highly recommended that your child’s backpack be no heavier than 10-20% of his/her body weight. Of course, a good solution is to purchase a rolling backpack for your child or one that has padded backs and straps.

The following is information from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the AAP on ways to insure proper backpack safety.

Choose the right backpack:

  • Wide padded shoulder straps
  • Two shoulder straps (to evenly distribute the weight)
  • Padded back
  • Waist strap (also helps distribute the weight)
  • Multiple compartments
  • Lightweight
  • Rolling Backpacks

Prevent injury by:

  • Using BOTH shoulder straps
  • Tighten the straps to fit close to the body – the straps should hold the
    backpack two inches off the waist
  • Pack light – backpack should never weigh more than 15 percent of the
    child’s total body weight
  • Do not carry unnecessary materials – clean out the backpack daily to
    lessen the weight
  • Bend using both knees – when bending down, do not bend at the waist
    when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack.
  • Stand tall when wearing backpack – make sure the child is not leaning
    forward to compensate for the weight of the backpack.
  • Use the Rolling component of the backpack as often as possible.

As the school year continues, you, as a parent, should continue to monitor your child’s behavior for potential injuries. With thousands of injuries taking place every year, this is something to take seriously.

If you or a family member has been injured in an accident, contact the San Bernardino personal injury law offices of Welebir Law to learn more about your options.


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