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Backpack stategies

Posted by Vicki on 09/03/2013

     Backpacks that are too heavy or poorly carried can cause everything from general pain in the back, neck and shoulders to tingling in the arms, weakened muscles, and poor posture. If your child complains of these things, then you should address the problem quickly. Parents can take steps to help the children overcome the problems and correctly pack and wear the backpack.

     Loading a pack:

  • The backpack should weight no more than 10% of the childs body weight. Yes, you should weigh the pack to be sure.
  • Load the heaviest items closest tot he child's back (the back of the pack)
  • Arrange items so they don't slide very much.
  • Avoid carrying unnecessary items.
  • If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider getting a rolling one to save your child's back.

     Wearing the backpack:

  • Distribute the weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing only one strap can cause curvature of the spine.
  • Select a pack with good padding on the shoulder straps. This will help reduce any tingling of the arms/hands.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child's back. If the back pack is too loose they will lean forward to adjust and cause the muscles to be strained in the back.
  • Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one to distribute the weight of the pack more evenly.
  • The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back and should never rest more than four inches below the waistline.
  • Choose the correct size for your child and consider the amount of room needed to carry all items.

For more information you can go to The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. website.

If your child is suffering from back pain, contact a physical therapist to prescribe a treatment plan to reduce their back pain.