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Spinal Surgery Unit – Department of Orthopedics

The backpack is common in children and adolescents to carry books and school supplies.  If used correctly, it might be a good way to carry supplies necessary for the school day.  It is designed to distribute weight of carried objects to some of the strongest muscles in the child’s body.


Risk Factors/ Prevention

The heavy backpack carried incorrectly on the back may cause problems to children and adolescents.  If used improperly, the backpack may harm muscles and joints.  This may lead to severe pain in the back, neck and shoulder.  It may also cause problems in body positions.  This booklet helps the family to teach children how to carry the backpack properly.


Choosing the Suitable School Bag

The backpack should have the following features:


  • The backpack should have two wide shoulder straps and a pad.  The straps that are not wide may stick in shoulders and cause pain and limit blood circulation.
  • The backpack should have two straps.  A backpack with one strap that extends over the body will not distribute weight equally to body muscles.
  • The backpack should have a pad that protects the body from sharp objects inside the backpack, and gives an increased feeling of comfort.
  • The backpack should have a waist strap that distributes heavy weight to muscles more equally.
  • The back pack should be of light weight and does not constitute an excessive load on the back.
  • The Wheeled Backpack: This type of backpacks might be a good choice for students who will necessarily carry heavy weights.  It should be remembered that this type of backpacks should be carried on the back when walking on the staircase.

To avoid injuries with the use of backpacks, the following should be done:


  • Always use the two straps to carry the backpack on the shoulders.  Carrying the backpack on one shoulder may stress the muscles.
  • Tighten the straps in a manner that the backpack is close to the body.  The two straps should carry the backpack five centimeters over the waist.
  • The backpack should be of light weight and should not be more than 20% of the student’s total weight.
  • The backpack should be organized in a manner that allows utilizing all of its pockets, with heavier objects are closer to the back center.
  • Get rid of unnecessary objects in the backpack and do not carry all books required for the school day if possible.
  • Bend on the knees, not from the waist when using or lifting a heavy backpack.
  • Practice back strengthening exercises to build the muscles that are used to carry the backpack.

Parents can help their children as follows:

  • Encourage the child or the adolescent to report any pain or discomfort that might result from carrying the heavy backpack.  Do not ignore any back pain reported by the child or adolescent.
  • Talk to the responsible people in the school to reduce weights in the backpack.  Other parents can be met to encourage change.
  • Consider purchase of a second group of books and keep them at home for the student.

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