To help your child’s back, here’s what you can do:
- Pack smart. Make sure that your child gets in the habit of cleaning out their bag daily, leaving things that aren’t needed at home or in the locker.
- Distribute weight evenly. Teach your child to wear both straps, not just one. This helps to distribute the weight evenly.
- Pay attention to your child’s posture. If your child is slouching or leaning over to one side, chances are that the backpack is too heavy. If there are any signs of pain, tingling, or numbness consult your doctor or physical therapist immediately.
- Get the “right” backpack. Consider getting a backpack with multiple compartments to keep the weight more evenly distributed. Make sure there are 2 wide and well-padded straps that add comfort to the shoulder. If the bag has one strap, the weight distribution is uneven, causing the child to lean forward or to the side. Also, tighten the straps so the backpack is close to the body and rests in the middle of the back, not at the buttocks.
- Lift the backpack properly. Teach your child how to lift the backpack correctly by bending at the knees and lifting with both hands before putting it on.
- Reduce the load. Doctors and physical therapists strongly recommend children carry bags that are no more than 10-15% of their body weight. However, less is always better. This means that if your child weighs 100 lbs, the backpack should weigh no more than 15 lbs to avoid injury.
If, however, your child does experience any pain or discomfort resulting from backpack use, call us today. We will conduct a thorough examination and help avoid discomfort or injury. We will also prescribe the best, most efficient exercises to help address any impairment and help your children (and you) to develop stronger muscles, improve posture, and return to normal, pain-free activities.
Next week Jurgen will be back to talk about bone strength, why it is important and how to build and keep bone strength. I hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading!
Rodger Edwards, PTA
As children head back to school in September, a disturbing new trend is emerging. Young children are suffering from back pain much sooner than generations before them. A major contributing factor seems to be a heavy backpack. Most parents (and children) are unaware of the potential injury that heavy backpacks can cause.
A recent news release by the American Physical Therapy Association in April 2009 revealed that more than 50 percent of children surveyed carry backpacks that are too heavy. If a backpack is stuffed with heavy books and/or worn incorrectly, the bio-mechanical pressure on the spine increases dramatically. As a result, your child may lean forward to compensate. This can cause shoulder, neck, or back pain.
By looking at this diagram you can now see the right and wrong way for your child to wear a backpack. So before your child heads out the door in the morning make sure they are following the middle example to help them prevent strain and injury. Next week, I will actually list out all 6 steps for you to help you prevent injury to your child from an improperly worn pack. Thanks for reading!
Rodger Edwards, PTA