Our Stories

Avoiding a pain in the back(pack)

Toronto, August 24, 2018

By Madison Thakore

Children wearing backpacks run to school

Notebooks, pencils, pens… the list goes on and on. Shopping for new school supplies and getting ready for the first day of class stirs up excitement in most homes. But how do you carry all those supplies to class? More times than not, it’s with a backpack.

Backpacks are used by students of all ages but we often forget how much stress they can put on our backs if not used properly. Dr. Igor Steiman, a chiropractor at St. Michael’s Hospital, has some advice for wearing a backpack properly to help alleviate back pain and stress throughout the year.

Wear it correctly!

“The backpack should have two straps that kids can put around both shoulders, and the total weight of the backpack should be no more than 15 per cent of the user’s body weight,” recommends Dr. Steiman.

Using both padded shoulder straps, and waist straps for heavier loads, is important as it puts less stress on the shoulders and evenly distributes the weight that is being carried.

Pack it properly!

Students often have a lot of items to bring back and forth, especially at the beginning of the school year. Packing your bag properly can help to alleviate potential back pain.

Icon with a backpack, stethoscope and the St. Michael's Hospital logo

Dr. Steiman suggests packing heavier items, like laptops and textbooks, closer to the child’s back and keeping light items, such as lunches, closer to the front. Having heavier items closer to the spine is important to avoid straining back muscles.

Stay active!

Using your backpack properly is just one of many things you can do to help keep your spine healthy. Dr. Steiman stresses the importance of educating kids on back exercise and keeping active throughout the school year to avoid future back problems. Break up sedentary activities, like watching TV or playing video games, with family exercise.

To help stay active and minimize back pain for the whole family, Dr. Steiman recommends “the family stretch together, be more active and go for walks.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

St. Michael’s Hospital with Providence Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Health Centre now operate under one corporate entity as of August 1, 2017. United, the three organizations serve patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education.

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