September is Backpack Safety Month


Did you know that September is National Backpack Safety Month?

Overloaded backpacks used by children have received a lot of attention throughout the past several years. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are more than 7,300 backpack-related injuries annually treated by hospitals and doctors.  Injuries include sprains, strains and bruises to the back and shoulders.

Backpacks are a popular and practical way for students of all ages to carry their schoolbooks and supplies needed throughout the school day.  They are designed to distribute the weight of the load evenly among some of the strongest muscles in the body, but when overloaded or used incorrectly they can cause injury and damage.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that, when choosing the right backpack, you look for:

  • Wide, padded shoulder straps– narrow straps can dig into shoulders and cause pain, as well as restricts circulation.
  • Padded back – protects against sharp edges present inside the pack.
  • Two shoulder straps – helps distribute weight evenly.
  • Waist strap – helps distribute weight evenly.
  • Lightweight backpack – decreases the weight to the overall load.
  • Rolling backpack – for students who have to tote an especially heavy load.
  • Multiple compartments– helps to distribute weight more evenly.

To prevent injury when using a backpack, make sure to help inform your child to:

  • Always use both shoulder straps.
  • Tighten the straps so the bag is close to the body. The straps should hold two inches above the waist.
  • Pack lightly. The AAP recommends a backpack never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s total body weight.
  • Organize the backpack and use all of the compartments to distribute weight more evenly.
  • Stop often at lockers so a heavy load isn’t being carried throughout the day.
  • Bend using both knees when bending down instead of leaning at the waist.
  • Learn back-strengthening exercises to build up muscles used to carry a backpack.

If you have any additional questions or need advice, you can always contact your child’s pediatrician. Do not ignore any back pain that your child may tell you about! My husband has had rheumatism for 41 years and has had several operations. He always got 100 mg. Tramadol for the pain (one tablet in the morning and one in the evening). But recently he’s been getting 100 mg. Tramadol. The drug works great but not long enough. So a pain reliever with beneficial side effects.