A school backpack is a necessary item for kids these days. Millions of elementary, middle, and high school students are heading to their classes with overstuffed backpacks slung over their shoulders. While carrying a backpack to school every day may seem harmless enough, it can cause painful neck and back problems and injuries for students who don’t pack or carry their backpacks properly. Heavy loads can cause repetitive stress injuries and spinal pain that will worsen with age and may last a lifetime.
Medical professionals advise no more than 10-15% of body weight should be carried in school backpacks. This means that a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack that’s heavier than 15 pounds. Here are some tips to help ensure your child is wearing his or her backpack safely:
- Load the heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack) and arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
- Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
- If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows them.
- Face the backpack and lift with the legs when putting on the backpack to avoid straining the back, then shoulder the pack one arm at a time.
- Both shoulder straps should always be worn. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, resulting in pain and discomfort.
- Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. The shoulders and the neck have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, the arms, and the hands when too much pressure is applied.
- Adjust the shoulder straps so the pack fits snugly against the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull a child backward and strain muscles.
Physical Therapy of Idaho offers free assessments to help with back or neck pain issues. Call now for an appointment with one of our physical therapists!