Submitted by Jessica Mendoza, PT, DPT, PCS, physical therapist at Valley Medical Center’s Children’s Therapy
It’s that time of year again, getting everything ready for kids to head back to school! For many kids, a return to in-person learning means needing a new backpack to carry their many school supplies. We often think about ensuring that a child has clothes, coats and shoes that fit appropriately, but do we stop to make sure that their backpack fits well and is correctly positioned on their body?
Back pain is mostly thought of as an adult problem, but the truth is that having to much strain on the back can cause pain and discomfort at any age in the back, shoulders and neck. Making sure your child’s backpack is worn appropriately can help lower their chances of having pain. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The backpack should be worn in the middle of the back. Wearing the backpack too low may cause a child to slouch forward or arch their back. Over time, this can cause pain and injury.
- The backpack should have wide, well-padded shoulder straps, and both should be worn when the backpack is on. Using only one shoulder strap may cause uneven posture and pain.
- Be aware of the load—ideally the weight of the backpack should be no more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight. Watch your child put on and take off their backpack to make sure they can do so without struggling. If you find that their backpack is too heavy, make sure they are only carrying what is needed and are able to stop by lockers between classes to keep from having too many heavy books. Other options may be a rolling backpack or a copy of materials to keep at home.
If your child is having back, neck or shoulder pain, they may benefit from an evaluation by a physical therapist. The therapist can look at their strength and movement, as well as assess their backpack fit. Learn more about physical therapy services at Children’s Therapy by visiting valleymed.org/childrenstherapy or call 425.690.3513.