Back-to-School Time! Little Backpacks, Big Problems

August 29, 2012 | By | Comments (0)

If aliens landed on earth today, they’d surely know it was back-to-school time as soon as they logged into Facebook and saw the images appearing on many moms’ Timelines this week. (Yes, there are about a million things wrong with that scenario…for one thing, perhaps our far-out friends are still hooked on Friendster…)

Anyways, the point is—while you’re loading up your little one’s bag in these first few days of school, consider this: a recent study found that the average weight of kids’ backpacks was over 15 pounds, which in most cases was well more than 10% of the students’ body weight.

The problems associated with the excessive poundage ranged from garden-variety back pain (one in four kids said they’d felt pain for more than 15 days in the previous year!) to the more serious, including scoliosis and even disc compression and changes in spinal curvature. Girls had more problems than boys, and interestingly, the problems seemed to get worse with age—despite the fact that as kids become teenager they get older they obviously get bigger and stronger.

To lighten the load, follow these tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which include:

*Choose a backpack with thick, padded straps — adjust them evenly and so that they are snug

*Consider a pack with a padded waist-strap, to help re-distribute weight off the shoulder and onto the hips/waist.

*Encourage kids to wear both straps, so that the pack’s poundage doesn’t rest on just one shoulder.

*Limit pack weight to less than 10 percent of the child’s weight. If necessary or desired, opt for a rolling bag!

For tons more info on back-to-school news, tips and helpful hints on homework, snacks, gear, and health, check out this special section on