It’s about that time when the teacher sends out school supply lists, parents are back-to-school shopping and kids are desperately trying to hold on to what’s left of the summer but, at the same time, they’re excited to pick out a new backpack! We all know the importance of the right color or cartoon character on the backpack but the type of backpack is also extremely important to help maintain your child’s posture and prevent them from experiencing any unnecessary back, neck or shoulder pain.
There are 33 small bones called vertebrae that course from the base of your head to your bottom. If the backpack is worn incorrectly or is too heavy, this can place undue stress on the vertebrae that can continue far beyond their school years. The key is prevention with correct backpack wear habits. Here are a few things to look out for when choosing a bag for your child:
Weight - The weight of a backpack should be no more than 10-15% of your child’s weight when it is full. For example, if your child weighs 100lbs, they’re bag should hold no more than 10-15lbs. The smaller your child, the smaller their backpack should be. If your child has to lean forward with the bag on, then is it too big and/or too heavy.
Size- How to measure for the correct size:
- Length: Measure the distance from your child’s shoulders to their belly button. Add 2 inches to this measurement.
- Width: measure between your child’s shoulder blades. The width can be up to two inches more than this measurement.
Straps- Your child’s backpack should have two straps AND both straps should be worn at all times. The straps should be wide and padded. Having two wide, padded straps helps to distribute the weight evenly across the back and shoulders which will help to prevent any unnecessary pain.
Adjust the Straps - Adjusting the straps help to keep the weight closer to the child’s body, which will decrease the stress on the back and shoulder. The back should sit snugly against your child’s back. The backpack should not sit low on the child’s bottom.
If allowed, or if your child is already experiencing back pain, a great option is to use a rolling backpack.
If your child is experiencing back or shoulder pain resulting from backpack wear or other issues, physical therapy can help to restore muscle balance and improve posture which are key elements to maintaining a healthy back!