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ABC7 Feature: Dr. Jazini Warns about the Dangers of Heavy Backpacks

Authored by Dr. Ehsan Jazini, MD, WJLA ABC7. September 1, 2022

Backpacks are at the top of mind for many parents this back to school season. ABC News 7 interviewed Dr. Jazini  for tips to making sure the weight of your child’s backpack isn’t impacting their spinal health. 

Weight Of Your Backpack

Backpacks seem to get heaver and heavier each year, so it doesn’t come as a shock that back pain is now the number 1 cause of pain for Americans. Backpacks can put a strain on muscles and joints when they are used incorrectly. Children’s spines are still developing, so it’s important to prevent damage to their growing bodies. A great rule of thumb, is to make sure the weight of the backpack doesn’t exceed 10% of the child’s weight.

So, for a child weighing 100 lbs, their backpack should weigh 10 lbs or less. Just think – by the time time you add a textbook or two, a laptop, and a water bottle, it’s easy to get  well beyond that recommended weight limit. Be sure to lessen that load as much a possible.

Positioning Your Backpack Straps

How a backpack is worn is just as important as how much it weighs. Straps should be worn on both sides of the shoulders to make sure the muscles aren’t unbalanced. It seems quick and easy to throw on the backpack with only one strap, but that can cause muscle issues, joint issues, and a myriad of other health hazards. Straps should also be tighter to fit snugly on the back and shoulders. They should rest about 2 inches above the waist. If the straps are too loose, that can also pull the child too much away from their center of gravity. Wheeling bag is also a viable options to completely remove that strain and weight from the back.

Choosing The Right Backpack

If you know your child’s backpack is going to always be full, try looking for a rolling backpack instead of making them carry one. For those going to wear a backpack, make sure it has good supportive straps – some even have additional cushioning in the straps as shock absorbers. And look for backpacks that have many different pocketed areas; this allows for the weight to be evenly distributed throughout the backpack, and objects like water bottles or instruments to be secured.

An overloaded backpack can have a very real impact on their muscles, joints, and even posture. While Virginia Spine Institute has an array of spine experts that can provide physical therapy, regenerative medicine techniques, and in extreme cases, surgery, the best method is prevention, and that begins with education.

Let’s be proactive now to prevent the wear and tear our children could experience in the future.

 


Dr. Ehsan Jazini is a board certified spine surgeon at Virginia Spine Institute. He has been the first in the nation, and in the world, to perform advanced surgical techniques in cervical disc replacement, augmented reality (AR) spine surgery, and robotic spine surgery. Dr. Jazini was the first in the world to perform Augmented Reality guided personalized spine implant surgery using artificial intelligence. As a leading published author in the field of spine surgery, Dr. Jazini was selected as the Editor in Chief of The Spine Health Journal for the National Spine Health Foundation. Learn more about Dr. Jazini.

 

Reviewed by: Dr. Ehsan Jazini, MD.

Reviewed by: Dr. Ehsan Jazini, MD.

About The Authors

Dr. Ehsan Jazini, MD

WJLA ABC7

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