Backpack Safety: Tips from a PT
The start of school means picking out your little one's favorite backpack so they can carry all their school supplies in them. Backpacks come in all shapes and sizes -- cute, bulky, sporty, and maybe even older -- and it's important to know a few things to look for to help your little one's posture and back! Backpacks can get heavy, and most kids don't always wear them correctly because it's not cool, they're in a hurry or...you know, just because!
Here are some tips to help along the way!
1) Wearing both straps can help to even out the weight of the backpack on children's shoulders and back, especially if the backpack is heavy. Picking backpacks with wider straps also helps to distribute the weight on their shoulders.
2) The backpack should be worn a little higher on the back so that the bottom of backpack comes to top of the waist. Some kids like to wear them a lot lower, but if that backpack is heavy, it will just pull on their back muscles and eventually cause some discomfort or pain in their shoulders and back.
3) Since backpacks can get heavy over time, try to only put in what is needed for that day back and forth between home and school. Try to take supplies or work out of the backpack that can be left at home to lighten the load for the next day. Place heavier items or books closest to the back and distribute other items to utilize all compartments.
Another important tip is that if your child is complaining about shoulder or back pain and you notice their posture has worsened since wearing a backpack, a physical therapist can help with posture and strengthening activities.
Whitney Castle, PT, DPT