It seems like every year teachers and schools are asking our children to carry more and more in their backpacks! It's not only books and notebooks, but now it's a Chromebook with its charger, calculators, and 12 different colored pens. What can you do to help make sure that your child's backpack is not overpowering them? How can you help your child if they're complaining that their back hurts when they walk home from school?
The pediatric physical therapists at Performance Physical Therapy want to give you some tips for making sure that your child's backpack is safe for them to carry.
Choosing a Backpack Size
It should go without saying, but your child's backpack should not be bigger than they are! Choose a backpack that is no longer than their back and no wider than their torso. We also highly recommend using backpacks with two straps vs. an over-the-shoulder or messenger bag.
How To Wear a Backpack
A backpack should be worn so that the bottom of the backpack hits the top of your child's bottom. Using the front straps can help to distribute weight around their body instead of solely relying on their shoulders and back.
Packing the Backpack
When packing your child's backpack, place the heavier objects towards the back of the backpack. Typically, this is where a laptop, books, or binders should be. Then, place their notebooks and smaller items, like an agenda, in front.
Remove Extra Weight in the Backpack
Have your child practice cleaning out their backpack at least once per week to make sure that they aren't carrying any extra weight, like that lost sweatshirt or mug they've been telling you they can't find.
Utilize Their Locker
We recommend this often to patients and get some pushback because of locker location or short passing times. However, offloading their backpack periodically throughout the day can help to improve their posture and reduce the overall strain on their back.
Reducing Back and Shoulder Pain in Children
While we cannot control what our schools require, we can control how safely our children are bringing those items to and from school. A good rule of thumb is that a child's backpack should not weigh more than 10% of their body weight. These tips should help reduce any back pain or shoulder pain complaints your child may have at the start of this new year related to their backpack.
When to See a Physical Therapist
Tried all these tips and your child is still complaining of back or neck pain when carrying their backpack or sitting in school? Request a phone consult with a pediatric physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy or schedule an evaluation today!