Do you know how much your child’s backpack weighs? According to the APTA if it’s more than 15 percent of his or her body weight, then it could hurt your child’s back. Millions of students in the United States carry backpacks to and from school, often overloaded with books, supplies and equipment. Weight of the backpack and improper use can result in injury to the skeletally immature child.
During adolescence kids are going through growth spurts and so their bones and posture are vulnerable to injury. Injury can result when a child carrying a heavy backpack uses bad posture or shifts there weight abnormally to adapt a heavy load. These adaptations can cause pain from disk injury, improper spinal alignment and deformity. In addition, the muscles of neck, shoulder region and lower back can be strained leading to injury. In more advanced cases, a child may even experience nerve compression and damage.
Some of the warning signs that a problem may be arising include back pain, fatigue, red marks on the shoulders, tingling or numbness in the arms and a shift or leaning in one direction.
The American Physical Therapy Association has set forth guidelines that should be used with backpacks to reduce the risks associated with them. These recommendations include:
– Backpacks should be worn on both shoulders for equal weight distribution, and the height should fall two inches below the shoulder blades and sit at waist level.
– It should have padded shoulder straps, which distribute the weight in the bag evenly over his/her shoulders.
– Shoulder straps should fit comfortably on the shoulder and under the arms, so the arms can move freely.
– The bottom of the pack should rest in the contour of the lower back.
– Keep the load 10-15% or less of the child’s body-weight.
– Organize the contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the back
– Carry only those items that are required for the day
TheraSport Physical Therapy can help you and your child choose a proper backpack that fits your child properly. Additionally, our physical therapists can help your child improve their posture, correct muscle imbalances and manage the pain from improper backpack use. TheraSport has two board-certified McKenzie credentialed practitioners to help with all spinal related problems.