This time of year our Doctors of Physical Therapy spend a lot of time educating parents about the importance of backpack safety for our children as they return to school. But, this year is a little different. Due to the COVID pandemic, some schools are requiring our children to bring more supplies to and from school then they ever have in previous years. Your child may be packing lunch, computers, text books, workbooks, and more! It is critical that they pack their packs intelligently so as to not stress the spine and other joints.
Utilize a pack that has two straps and rests on the back if possible. Make sure your child utilizes both straps of the pack. This helps to more evenly distribute the load across both shoulders and the trunk. Utilizing one strap, especially with this year's increased load, can lead to unhealthy and potentially painful muscle imbalances.
Positioning of the backpack on the body is also important. Visually inspect how the backpack sits on your child’s body. The straps should be of equal length so the backpack rests evenly in the middle of the mid back. Adjust accordingly. Shoulder straps should be loose enough to put on and take off the backpack
without difficulty, and allow free movement of the arms. But the straps
should not be so loose that the backpack extends below the low back,
or rest on the buttocks. Packs with waist and chest straps are recommended and should be fastened. This keeps the load close to the body and reduces strain on the spine and musculature. Also, some packs are made with padding which can be more comfortable but keep in mind breathability is a concern as well. Most of our children will be returning to school in warm temperatures and maintaining proper body temperature is important to avoid overheating.
Organize the pack so the heaviest items are closest to the body. Also, you may want to consider last year's pack size and whether or not it is made to support the increased load this year. Remember, if your child is having pain while carrying their pack or doing any other activity you should consult with your Doctor of Physical Therapy for an evaluation. Visit ProFysioNJ.com to schedule your FREE consultation today.