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Small children, Large backpacks | UVM Medical Center Blog


Finding a backpack that is up to the task when it comes to the comfort and safety of your children is an important first task for parents. Lewis First, MD, Chief of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and president of the Department of Pediatrics of Larner College of Medicine at UVM , offers his advice to avoid injury by picking up and packing correctly.

How to choose a backpack

To reduce back and neck strain, look for the following features:

  • Light. The backpack should not add considerable weight to the child’s shoulders.
  • Two shoulder straps they are wide and padded to go over the shoulders to prevent nerve pain.
  • Padded waist or chest belt to distribute the weight more evenly.
  • Padded back so that sharp objects do not stick out.
  • Multiple compartments to distribute the weight of the load.
  • Width The package should not be larger than the child’s torso.
  • Not too big. A backpack should not hang more than four inches below the waist.

How to carry a backpack

  • Use two straps. Studies suggest that if an older student carries a heavy load using only a backpack strap on their shoulder, then it will result in serious neck, shoulder and back pain. No similar study has been done in younger children, but we do see that young children who wear a shoulder strap alter their posture and gait, or how they walk, making them susceptible to back discomfort. shoulders and neck.
  • Turn on the load. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Physical Therapy Association recommend that backpacks contain no more than 10 to 15 percent of a child’s body weight.
  • Organize your backpack. Pack heavier items low in the package and close to the body to help balance the load.

Signs of overload

My general rule of thumb is that if your child complains of back, neck or shoulder pain during the week, and improves over the weekend, you are right to be suspicious of their backpack. To remedy this, adjust the weight or shoulder strap or reduce the contents of the backpack. I find that storing some of those heavy books in a locker instead of carrying them around in a backpack all day helps, not to mention removing expired books from the library!

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