Your child is likely to complain about a few things during the school year, like their teachers and homework. One thing they might not complain too loudly about, but that should be taken seriously, is back pain.

From too small desks to low chairs to heavy backpacks, all of these could be contributing to some of your child’s back pain. Backpacks remain the biggest culprit of this type of pain. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 5,000 backpack-related injuries were treated at emergency rooms across the nation.

An overloaded backpack can cause:

  • Muscle strains
  • Irritation of the spinal joints
  • Rounding of the shoulders
  • Reduced balance

Your child needs easy access to their textbooks, notebooks and other school supplies. If they are young, they may not have the opportunity to use a locker, which means they are carrying a backpack that could weigh upwards of 20 pounds around for hours.

You can help prevent your child from becoming seriously injured. Here are some methods for preventing backpack back pain.

  • Try to have your child leave more school supplies in their locker or their cubby if they do not need it for the day
  • Adjust their backpack so it rests about two inches above their hip
  • Buy a backpack with wider, padded straps
  • Consider choosing a backpack with a metal frame or one on wheels
  • Make sure your child isn’t carrying unnecessary items like unneeded electronics
  • Heavier items, like larger textbooks, should be placed in the back of the backpack

A child should carry no more than 10 to 20 percent of their body weight on their back. If your young child is carrying more than that, you may want to speak with their teacher to determine if certain items can be left in their desks or cubby.

A rolling backpack is a great option for children who walk to and from school. For older children, encouraging activities like yoga, Pilates or weight training to help strengthen their core muscles can also help prevent an injury.

Be sure to recognize whether the back pain your child is experiencing is due to one of these issues rather than a sports or playground-related injury.
If your child’s back pain persists on days when there is no school, schedule a doctor’s visit. A back injury should be diagnosed as soon as possible to prevent the injury from worsening or causing other spinal conditions.