How your child carries a backpack matters for lifelong spine health

Posted at 11:34 AM, Sep 19, 2022

Schools across the nation are questioning whether or not to keep lockers, but having no lockers means students will need to carry everything in their backpacks.

It may seem simple, but how your child carries a backpack, matters. Neurosurgeon Sharad Rajpal, associated with National Spine Health Foundation, explains how you can make sure your children don't face chronic pain in the future.

"Millions of children are going back to school, which is great after the sort of the prolonged COVID pandemic," Dr. Rajpal said. "But I think one of the things that we tend to neglect is, you know, back spine health for kids."

Dr. Rajpal says you don't want them to deal with a heavy load by compensating in unhealthy ways.

"Pushing forward with the shoulders and the head in the neck with the lower back, things like that," Dr. Rajpal said. "And then, that sort of over time causes problems with increased neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain. And you don't want to turn something that's an acute problem into a chronic problem for an individual. And we talk about how back pain is one of the most significant problems that adults suffer from. So, if we can try to be preventative in those earlier formative years, is really important."

Dr. Rajpal says the best thing for your back health is to use both backpack straps and to have it tight to your back. If you have a strap in the front to clip, that's even better.

In addition to balancing the load, the National Spine Health Foundation says students should be lifting their backpacks with a bend at the knees. It would be ideal for students to carry less, but Dr. Rajpal realizes that may not be the case for a while.

"I think that we were even thinking that perhaps the future is going to be just carrying one laptop through," Dr. Rajpal said. "But I think definitely textbooks have not gone away. In fact, kids are actually, just… carrying more items in their backpack because they have less opportunity to get to their locker in the day."

If your child complains of numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, talk to your doctor.