Almost everything a child needs at school can be found in one place—their back. From books and notepads to pens and a laptop, a child’s backpack includes all the supplies they need to succeed. But did you know that these backpacks could be the underlying cause for spinal pain in your child? That hundreds of children in Loudoun County (and over 6,000 children nationwide) experienced backpack related injuries last year? Or, that there is a right way and a wrong way to wear the backpack to reduce pain or strain in the back, shoulder or neck area?
Chiron Physical Therapy wants to help save your child’s back, neck and shoulders. We want to stop the emerging trend that sees our young people suffering from back painsooner than generations before them. In recognition of the start of the school year and Backpack Safety Awareness Day (September 18), your friends at Chiron offer the following safety tips to make this school year pain free.
TIP #1: Go high, not low
When the backpack sits on your child’s back, the bottom of the bag should not go past your child’s waist. There’s a tendency for some children to let the backpack slump all the way to their knees, which can cause unnecessary tension on their shoulder and lower back. This problem can be easily remedied by adjusting the backpack’s straps. By tightening the straps, the backpack will stay close to the body and rest in the middle of the back, not at the buttocks.
TIP #2: Reduce the load
Doctors and physical therapists strongly recommend children carry bags that are no more than 10-15% of their body weight. This means that if your child weighs 100 lbs., the backpack should weigh no more than 15 lbs. to avoid injury. However, less is always better. Encourage your child to get into the habit of cleaning out their bag daily, leaving things that aren’t needed at home or in their locker.
TIP #3: Pay attention to the straps
Does your child head out the door with just one backpack strap slung over their shoulder? Stop that habit and reduce the inevitable strain and pain that will result. Teach your child to wear both straps, not just one. This helps to distribute the weight evenly, reducing strain on one side of the upper body. In addition, place the heavier books closer to the back as they require the most body support.
With the proper precautions, your child should be able to go through the school year without having to subject themselves to excessive spinal pressure. If you or someone you know is experiencing pain, your friends at Chironare here to help. As musculoskeletal specialists, your Chiron Physical Therapy family are experts when it comes to the mechanics of the body and how the muscles, joints and skeletal structure work with one another. We want you to enjoy a pain-free life whereby you move the way you want and enjoy your daily activities.
As always remember, your friends at Chiron Physical Therapy of VA are Direct Access certified meaning you can come directly to us for evaluation and treatment without first seeing your medical doctor. We wish all of our Dulles South educational community a happy, healthy, successful school year.
Chiron Physical Therapy . . . committed to making people feel better.