A backpack is a great way of carrying the books, binders, supplies, lunches, gym clothes, and everything else needed for school. But, in order to carry all of those things backpacks have become larger and larger... but have they become too large and too heavy? How much is safe for your child to carry?
The American Physical Therapy Association recommends that your child's backpack should never exceed 10-15% of their body weight, although most packs are often close to 30-45% of their weight. When stresses placed on the spine exceed its ability to absorb them, spinal imbalances - and injury- will happen. A heavy backpack, for example, can pull a child backward, causing them to compensate by either bending forward or arching their back. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can also cause a child to lean too far to the other side to offset the weight. Over time, this overcompensation can lead to poor posture, muscle strain and pain in the back, neck and shoulders. Backpacks with tight, narrow straps that dig into the skin can cause tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.
What can you do?
- Pack lightly.
- Organize - heavier items closest to the back and use the compartments.
- Use both shoulder straps, make sure they are wide and padded.
- Tighten the straps so the backpack sits close to the back and in the middle.
- Use a locker, don't care everything at one time.
- Squat down, bend at the knees not the waist.
- Encourage your child to tell you if they are experiencing pain.
- Schedule an appointment with a doctor if they do experience any pain.