Protecting Your Child’s Back from Their Own Backpacks
By Tyler Guymon, DPT
AZOPT Physical Therapist

It is the time of year again when we trade our kid’s swimming suits and flip flops for uniforms and backpacks.  The beginning of the school year brings with it an increase in back pain by school-aged children.  Unfortunately, many of our children suffer from this back pain by improperly wearing their backpacks as they return to the rigorous grind of school.

Here are a few beneficial safety tips for wearing a backpack as the wear and tear of the school year presses forward:

Wear both straps

Use of one strap causes one side of the body to bear the weight of the backpack. By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed.

Wear the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles

Pay close attention to the way the backpack is positioned on the back.  It should rest evenly in the middle of the back.  Shoulder straps should be adjusted to allow your child to put on and take off the backpack without difficulty and allow free movement of the arms.  Straps should not be too loose, and the backpack should not extend below the lower back.

Lighten the load

Keep the load at 10-15% or less of your child’s bodyweight.  Carry only those items that are required for the day.  Organize the contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the back.  Some students even have two sets of books, which allow them to not carry heavy books to and from school.

Children come in all shapes and sizes, and some have physical limitations that require special adaptations.  A physical therapist can help you choose a proper backpack and fit it specifically to your child.

Additionally, a physical therapist can help improve posture problems, correct muscle imbalances, and treat pain that can result from improper backpack use.  Physical therapists can also design individualized fitness programs to help children get strong and stay strong—and carry their own loads!

Call us at 623.242.6908 if you would like to schedule an appointment with a licensed physical therapy.  Please feel free to leave me your questions or comments in the section below.