September 17, 2014
Is your child experiencing an aching back or shoulders? Stooped posture? Tingling in the arms? Weakened muscles? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then your child may be carrying too much weight or wearing his or her backpack incorrectly.
As parents, you can help your child load and wear his or her backpack correctly to avoid health problems.
Backpack safety starts with selecting the right bag for your child, and then ensuring that your child wears the backpack correctly. To help you, our therapy team in Katy, Texas, shares the following tips:
Selecting a Backpack
- Select a backpack with two straps rather than one, since your child may lean to one side, thus increasing pain.
- Select a backpack that fits snug on your child’s back and has padded shoulders to reduce the pressure on his or her neck and shoulders. If the backpack is too loose, your child will lean backwards and strain his muscles.
- If the backpack has a waist strap, encourage your child to use it to help distribute weight more evenly.
Wearing the Backpack
- Ensure that the backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of the child’s weight. (For example, if your child weighs 90 pounds he or she should not carry a backpack weighing more than nine pounds.)
- Arrange the heaviest books closest to your child’s back.
- Arrange the items in the backpack so that they do not slide around or cause the weight to shift.
- Ensure your child only carries what he or she needs every day. If heavy books are needed every day, consider purchasing a backpack with wheels for your child.
- Ensure the bag rests in the curve of the lower back and never more than four inches below your child’s waistline.
For more information about backpack safety, visit the website for the The American Occupational Therapy Association.
Janelle Hoffart, OTR