Preventing backpack injuries

August 16, 2009 9:59:13 AM PDT
The EmblemHealth Bronx Open begins August 23rd. Proceeds benefit the New York Junior Tennis League, which provides services to more than 120,000 New York City children each year. As those children head back to school, it's important they don't weigh themselves down with their backpack. Luke Bongiorno, the managing director of New York SportsMed and Physical Therapy, joined us with tips. Some common problems arising from backpacks are:

- Neck pain
- Shoulder impingment
- Lower back pain

(1) Increases compressive forces on the spine and disks, causing muscle shortening and placing the postural stability muscles at a disadvantage. This means that children will develop poor postural and compensation patterns which become hared to correct as they get older.

(2) Can cause excessive rounding of the shoulders, and combined with poor posture at computers and text messaging, can increase neck pain and shoulder impingement.

(3) Distort the natural curves in the back, and exacerbate already existing postural pronblems in childern (for example with scoliosis).

Things parents need to be aware of:

(1) There is some conflicting research on exact weight however most studies show that about 10% of the child's body weight.

(2) Bags should not hang much below the waist lin.e

(3) HEAVY ITEMS NEED TO BE PLACED CLOSER TO THE SPINE. This is siginficant as the further away from the spine that the weight is, the greater the forces placed on the spine.

(4) Shoulder straps should be wide, adjustable and padded. A small waist strap would help keep the pack close to the spine.

(5) "Ergonomic backpacks are available" They have more compartments to even the load. Roller backpacks can ease the load.

(6) Parents should re-inforce the importance of maintaining good posture. Keeping their heads up, stomach in, shoulders back etc....

For more information, visit

The 2009 EmblemHealth Bronx Open is played in Crotona Park, in the Bronx from Monday, August 23rd through Saturday, August 29th.
General admission is free except on Saturday.
The New York Junior Tennis League will provide free tennis lessons for children daily Monday through Saturday from noon to 3 p-m.
Call 347-417-8129 for more information.
All proceeds will benefit the league which provides free tennis and educational services to more than 120,000 underserved New York City children each year.

For more information, visit