Your child and school backpacks


This broken ankle has given me the opportunity to spend the last six weeks at my daughter’s house. Thank heaven for Anne-Marie and her husband, Rob, I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Meanwhile, I’ve been seeing something that is so wrong that I wish parents across the country would start to yell loud and long.  My grandson Martin is in the 7th grade and he carries a backpack that is so heavy it’s amazing.  In fact, I got curious while writing this blog so I went to weigh it and it’s 19.5 lbs!

Children under 13 YO have soft bones, called “green twig” because they can bend without breaking, just as a green twig can bend without breaking.  The purpose (I would guess since I didn’t create the system) is so kids can grow (if their bones were as solid as an adults, growth wouldn’t be as easy) and it also helps since kids take a lot of falls without a experiencing a lot of damage.

But, when you consider that when a child is carrying a 20 +/- pound pack on his/her back, she is slumped over to hold the weight, and his shoulders are lifted and curled forward to hold the straps.  They’re doing this every school day. If you took a young tree, bent it and twisted it and then held it there, it would not grow up straight, and eventually the child’s bones get shaped from carrying this heavy weight.

So, short of setting up a riot at your school’s superintendent’s office, what can you do?  First of all, ask your child if they really need to carry all of these books every day. See if they can lighten the load a little.  Next, take a look at the way hikers and backpackers carry their heavy load. They adjust the straps so the weight is sitting on the top of their posterior pelvis and snug along their back. When I looked at Martin his pack was too far from his body and too low, causing an additional strain on his shoulders.

If you go to a backpacking/outdoor sports store, the salesperson will be able to demonstrate how to properly carry a heavy pack without putting a strain on the shoulders.  It’s worth the trip, not just for your child’s momentary relief, but even more important for future posture and pain prevention.

Wishing you well,



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