With school on the horizon (Hallelujah!) it’s time to be thinking about back to school shopping. After all the new clothes, sneakers, and other supplies don’t forget to pay extra attention on getting them potentially their most important school supply: the backpack.
Frequently, children can experience pain in their necks, upper back, or shoulders from carrying too much weight in an ill-fitting backpack. More than 79 million students carry backpacks to school and of those approximately 55% carry more than the recommended weight allowance.
One study indicated 64% of kids 11 to 15 reported having back pain associated with their backpacks and a whopping 21% stating the pain lasted longer than six months. On the other side, another study showed that 8 out of 10 middle school kids reported less pain in their backs, necks, or shoulders once they changed the loading of their backpack.
Fortunately, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) offers up a few tips to help your child shoulder their load:
- Don’t let your child carry more than 10-20% of their body weight.
- Do load the heaviest items closest to their back (the back of the pack)
- Do arrange things so they won’t slide around
- Do check what your kid brings to school and home making sure only the necessary things are packed
- Do look into a pack with wheels if your school will allow it.
- Do use BOTH shoulder straps at ALL times.
- Do pick a pack with padded shoulder straps
- Do adjust the shoulder straps making the pack fit snugly to your child’s back without any sliding from side to side as that motion of the pack could cause chaffing.
- Do wear the waist belt if the pack has one.
- Do make sure the bottom of the pack rests in the curve of your child’s lower back/never more than four inches below their waistline.
If pain or soreness persists have your child talk to their school’s Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Nurse, or Doctor sooner rather than later for help.