The new school year is upon us and in full swing! As our children are settling in to their classrooms – the hustle and bustle of homework, school sports, and extracurricular activities also begins. The last thing parents and their children need to worry about are injuries, soreness, and back pain that can result from carrying heavy backpacks every day. While we can’t tell our teachers not to give our children homework, we can better protect our children and utilize best practices for packing and using backpacks.
Choosing a Backpack:
1. Pick a lightweight pack with a padded back. (i.e. the smaller the student, the smaller the backpack)
2. A pack should have two wide padded shoulder straps, multiple compartments, and a waist belt.
3. While packs on wheels may be good options, they are not easy to roll through snow, grass and are difficult to pull up stairs.
Backpack Safety Usage Tips:
1. Limit the load to less than 15% of student’s body weight (do not place lunch bags or unnecessary items (computers, cell phones, pencil boxes or books in bag)
2. Use all compartments and place heaviest books/items closer to the spine
3. Use both shoulder straps when carrying backpack and tighten them so that the pack rests in the middle of the back no more than 4 inches below waist line
4. Wear waist belt if available to distribute weight evenly.
Patricia A. Castle, PT, DPT
Co-Clinical Director, Pompton Plains