The Wrong Backpack Could Have Health Ramifications On Kids

By KBJR News 1

September 9, 2011 Updated Sep 9, 2011 at 12:02 PM CDT

Duluth, MN - (The Northland's News Center) - The new school year is now in full swing, which means parents need to be mindful of what their children are swinging onto their backs.

It's an issue that concerns many teachers.

"We're really worry about students back and neck health. If they're carrying backpacks that are too large for them and are overloaded, they're walking stooped over," says Principal at Northern Lights Elementary, Robyn Deshayes.

Overloaded backpacks are weighing down many of today's students.

"When my children are trying to take those backpacks back and forth, I get very nervous about the fact that their backpack is bigger then they are," 6Th grade science teacher and mother of four, Stephanie Francis says.

While parents scramble to get their kids ready for school...cramming in school supplies, books and lunches into their kids backpacks...they are often unaware of the stress they are putting on their kid's backs.

"Some of the things we're seeing is that the kids that are carrying too much weight, they're experiencing neck pain and shoulder pain, especially if you don't have a properly fitted backpack, the shoulder pain is going to be significant, as well as the lower back pain," says Chief Clinical officer at ChiroCare Of Minnesota, Dr. William Barrett said.

A recent study conducted determined that 55–percent of all students are carrying backpacks that are too heavy for their bodies.

So when people are looking for backpacks, you want to make sure that they have this support system right down here?

"That's correct, these two areas. You have to have a good shoulder support as well as the hip belt...and use that," Dr. Barrett said.

Dr. Barrett says in order to find a backpack that fits properly, you need to measure your torso length...starting from the bottom your neck...to the top of your hips.

"I'm going to measure from the bone that we've located right here, right down here to that line between your thumbs and you are 18–inches. So 18–inches is your torso length, and that's what you would look for when you go to the store looking at backpacks," says Dr. Barrett .

Following these simple guidelines for finding the right backpack could mean all the difference to your child's health.

Dr. Barrett says a backpack should not exceed 10 to 15 percent of a child's body weight... and also recommends choosing a backpack with wide, well–padded straps, a padded back, and a waist belt.