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Backpacks are convenient for students, but they can pose a threat to kids’ backs, necks and shoulders if used improperly.

In our practice, we have noticed a marked increase in the number of young children who are complaining about back, neck and shoulder pain associated with poor posture and faulty ergonomics while on the computer or laptop or carrying heavy loads in backpacks which are not appropriate. And most children today carry backpacks to school.

Dorval Physiotherapists advise that backpacks should weigh no more than 5 to 10 percent of a child’s weight, and the backpack should never be wider or longer than the child’s torso. Backpacks also should not hang more than four inches below the waistline.

Backpacks need wide, padded and adjustable shoulder straps, and children should always use both straps when wearing a backpack.

It’s also important for a backpack to have a padded back. This improves comfort and also protects the child from sharp edges on pencils, rulers, books and other school supplies inside the pack.

Select a backpack with several separate compartments, which will make it easier to position the contents more effectively. Place pointy or bulky items away from the area that rests on the child’s back.

One way to limit a backpack’s weight is to ask your child’s teacher if it’s possible for the youngster to leave the heaviest books and electronic items such as laptop computers at school, and take home only lighter handout materials on a regular basis.

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