Back-to-School Backpack Safety Tips

Back-to-School Backpack Safety Tips

By Professional Physical Therapy

If you have been worried about the effects of the weight of your child’s backpack as they are heading back to school, your instincts are correct. Backpacks that are too heavy or not carried properly can cause problems for kids like back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as poor posture.

You can avoid potential health risks by checking out these useful tips.

Start with Selecting the Right Size Backpack

A backpack should not be wider than your child’s torso. Padded, adjustable shoulder straps are recommended to help distribute the weight on your child’s back without digging into their shoulders. Multiple compartments are also important to help distribute the weight evenly.

Use the Backpack Correctly

The weight limit of a full backpack should not exceed 20% of your child’s body weight, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This means if your child is 75 pounds, he or she should not have a backpack that weighs more than 15 pounds. And make sure you pack the heavier items towards the back and the lighter items in front.

Pay attention to their posture. If your child is leaning forward to try to be able to carry the weight, then the backpack is probably too heavy.

Also, make certain that your child uses both straps when carrying the backpack; using one strap shifts the weight to one side and causes muscle pain and posture problems. It is important the straps are secure and tight, so it is fitted to your child’s back. Don’t allow backpack to sag below the waist.

Picking up your Backpack the Right Way

When picking up their backpack, your child should bend their knees to avoid strain. Then the key is wearing it, so it puts weight on the strongest muscles in the body: the back and abdominal muscles.

There are also many times where your child or teen shouldn’t wear a backpack, such as after surgery or an injury. If possible, take time to go back and forth to a locker so only items for one class at a time needs to be carried.

Click here or on the image to see Kristin Westover, PT, MPT, CIMT demonstrate a few of these important safety tips!

Reinforcing healthy backpack habits for your child can help reduce risk of pain. Do not ignore pain your child or teenager might be experiencing. Our physical therapists at Professional PT are movement experts. If you or your child has pain or discomfort, request an appointment at Professional Physical Therapy. We are here to help you get your life healthier and more comfortable today!

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