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  • Dr. Lee Brotherston

How to prevent back pain in kids

Did you know that more than 50 per cent of young people will experience at least one episode of lower back pain by the time they reach their teens?

Well, it’s true. It’s also true that wearing a backpack that is either too heavy, doesn’t fit well, or both, is one of the more common causes. Let’s discuss some tips and tricks to minimize the chances that your child ends up suffering from back pain.

First, you need to choose the right backpack. Look for one that is made of a lightweight material like canvas, for example. It should have wide, well-padded shoulder straps, with lots of adjustability. It should also have a padded back, an array of pockets, and ideally, a waist strap. Size wise, it should be proportionate to the child. As cute as it may be to see a small child with a gigantic backpack, a larger backpack is more likely to be overfilled, thereby increasing the weight of the pack beyond the recommended weight. Lastly, when selecting a backpack, ensure that the shoulder straps don’t cut into the arms and armpits — this could lead to pain or even nerve damage.

Next, make sure you and your child know how to pack the bag properly. The pack should only be filled with what they need, and shouldn’t become a portable storage container. Using the pockets of the pack, organize items so that the heaviest items are close to the body and sharp, or odd-shaped items are placed further away from the body. The total weight of the backpack should not exceed more than 10 to 15 per cent of the wearer’s own body weight.

Now they’re ready to go. But it’s important that the backpack is worn properly in order to reduce the chances of pain.

The backpack should fit evenly and snugly to the body — it shouldn’t hang to one side, or sit too low. Both shoulder straps should be worn at all times to evenly distribute the load of the pack. Wearing the bag over just one shoulder forces the spine and the surrounding muscles to compensate for the uneven weight, which can lead to pain and problems down the road.

Thanks for reading, and remember — pack it light, and wear it right!

Dr. Lee Brotherston

Partner and Chiropractor at

Oak Ridges Health Group

58 Brock Street W, Suite 201

Uxbridge ON, L9P 1P3

468 Main Street E

Beaverton ON, L0K 1A0

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