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Back to School: Backpack safety tips

Make sure backpacks fit properly to avoid injury.

Make sure backpacks fit properly to avoid injury.

Help your child avoid lower back pain and injury this school year — follow these simple backpack safety tips.

  • When fully loaded, your child’s backpack should weigh less than 15% of his body weight. To help your child know what this weight feels like, use your bathroom scale to measure the right backpack load.
  • Buy a backpack with two wide, padded straps that go over the shoulders — and make sure your child uses both straps at all times.
  • Choose a backpack with a padded waist or chest belt. This distributes weight more evenly across the body. Multiple compartments also help distribute the weight.
  • Your child’s backpack should not be wider than his body.
  • Consider a backpack with a metal frame (like hikers use) or on wheels (like a flight attendant’s bag). Check with your child’s school first to see if these types of bags are allowed.
  • Make sure your child isn’t toting unnecessary items. Laptops, CD players and video games can add a lot of pounds to a backpack.
  • Heavier items should be placed closer to the back of the backpack, next to the body.
  • Picking up the backpack properly is important. As with any heavy object, your child should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting it to his shoulders.
  • Encourage your child to develop stronger lower back and abdominal muscles — this will help avoid back injury. Weight training and yoga are two activities that can help strengthen these core muscles.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is a not-for-profit organization, operating three hospitals. Visit choa.org or call 404-250-KIDS to learn more.

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