As a physical therapist I find that there are a lot of things in our day-to-day lives that we don’t really give too much thought to that can really affect our bodies. One things that I think about from time to time is how children and young adults carry huge backpacks full of textbooks, and how it can have a detrimental effect on their bodies as they grow.
In this post I want to share a few simple things that you can do to help make sure that your child does not suffer from back pain, and make carrying a backpack a little easier.
1. Make sure your child wears both straps! If your child is only using of one strap he/she is only allowing one side of the body to bear weight, and by wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed.
2. Make sure he/she is wearing the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles. Pay close attention to the way the backpack is positioned on your child’s back – it should rest evenly in the middle of the back. Shoulder straps should be adjusted to allow the child to put on and take off the backpack without difficulty and allow his/her arms to move freely. It is also important to keep in mind that the straps should not be too loose, and the backpack should not extend below the low back.
3. Be careful the backpack is not too heavy. You child’s backpack should only be between 10-15% or less of his/her body weight. If you find that the bag is a little heavy check the contents and make sure that only the items that are required for the day are being carried around. It is also important to organize the contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the back, and place the lighter items near the front – this will help with balance. Although it might not be possible, one thing that can be done to prevent carrying bags that are too heavy is to see if it is possible for your child to have two sets of books so as not to have to carry the heavy books to and from school everyday.
How a Physical Therapist Can Help
A physical therapist can help you choose a proper backpack and fit it specifically to your child. Since children come in all shapes and sizes, and could have physical limitations that require special adaptations, it is very important to make sure that you find the right backpack.
Additionally, a physical therapist can help improve posture problems, correct muscle imbalances, and treat pain that can result from improper backpack use. We can also design individualized fitness programs to help children get strong and stay strong so that they don’t have any issues carrying heavy loads.
If your child is complaining about back pain you should give us a call and let us help out, it’s important to resolve these issues before they become more serious.
You can contact us through this form, or give us a call at 201-585-7300.