Rebecca Brown is a hands-on mom. With her son now in second grade, she’s taken note of his heavy backpack.

“We went through I think like three backpacks last year, because the weight of it. They break,” says Brown.

Experts fear children will be shouldering the load of their book bags for years to come. Studies linking it to spine problems later in life.

“Eighty percent of the population will experience back pain at some point of their life and once you have back pain it’s usually a chronic issue,” explains Lee Memorial Health System physical therapist Amy Tiu.

Physical therapists Amy Tiu and Kimberly Maggert submitted an academic paper on this topic.

“A lot of research has been done in older populations but very little with children. So we’re trying to pinpoint when exactly it started and find out how to address that,” says Tiu.

“We think that being aware of the backpack weight and posture is important for a healthy back,” adds Maggert.

There is a simple formula parents can use as a measure. The recommended weight of a loaded backpack is 10-15% of a child’s body weight. How it’s packed can also add strain.

“Heavy things – flat things near the back. The more small things should go in the front, so you don’t have anything stabbing the back. And also cleaning out the backpack frequently so you’re not carrying things that are unnecessary,” says Maggert.

Rebecca also schools her son on proper posture.

“I try to make sure he carries it on both shoulders, not just the one shoulder.”

Important lessons children can carry through their school years.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

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