Over-stuffed backpacks could be a problem for kids

Could simple aches and pain stem from heavy backpacks?

With the excitement of a new school year often comes the thrill of picking out a special backpack to carry every day until school ends sometime in June. But have you ever wondered if the backpack you are sending your child off to school with each day has too much in it? Is the weight too heavy for your child?

There are pediatricians that have been informing parents to listen to their children when they make claims about a headache, hurt back, hurt neck, stiff neck and back, or shoulder pain. This is a red flag that the backpack your child is carrying may be too heavy or not fixed to the child properly.

Experts say with school crowding and lack of lockers for youth, children’s backpack are getting larger by the year. Children’s backpacks are being stuffed with books, water, lunch and other clothing and electronic devices. The youth are left carrying all this extra weight.

A study from the University of California, San Diego concluded that the load of the backpacks are responsible for the significant amount of reports coming in from children complaining about their neck, back, shoulder, etc. Too much weight on a child’s frame while it is still developing could change a child’s posture, impair growth and compress the spine. This could also set up a lifetime of problems for that child and developing back problems into adulthood.

When you think of children, they are still growing and their spine is still fragile and important to their growth and development for the rest of their lives. This issue raises concern about their health and for parents to reevaluate what goes into their child’s backpack before they go out to school each morning.

Remember to pack the backpack very light and no more than 10 percent of the child’s total weight. This will help reduce back injuries and issues your child may develop due to a heavy backpack.

Michigan State University Extension supports healthy programs that help encourage youth and families to make healthy, lifelong decisions that may affect their health, nutrition choices, fitness goals and overall well-being. Visit your county MSU Extension office to learn more about the healthy living movement.

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