Backpack Safety

Backpack Safety

With the new school year ready to begin occupational therapists at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital want to stress the importance of proper backpack safety with some helpful tips.

Backpacks are a popular and practical way for students to carry school books and supplies. When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to carry the necessities of the school day. When backpacks are too heavy or worn incorrectly they can cause problems.

“Wearing a backpack correctly is important for the health of your back, your posture and other muscles. Improper wear of a backpacks can lead to muscle strains, pain, discomfort and even tingling in your arms,” said Aubree McGee, occupational therapist, The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital.

Warning signs your child’s backpack might be too heavy:

  • Difficulty putting on or taking off the backpack.
  • Pain when wearing the backpack.
  • Tingling or numbing in the arms or legs.
  • Red strap marks over the shoulders.
  • Any change in side-to-side posture when wearing the backpack.

Tips on how to pack and wear a backpack:

  • The backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight.
  • Put heaviest items closest to the child’s back and lighter items in front.
  • Use different compartments to distribute weight evenly.
  • If backpack is still too heavy, the child can carry a book or use a backpack with wheels.
  • When the child is picking up the backpack they should bend from knees and not waist.
  • Distribute backpack weight evenly by using both straps.
  • Make sure the backpack does not extend past the shoulders or below the top of hipbone.
  • Pack it light and wear it right.

“Wearing a backpack correctly can improve overall health by avoiding or relieving any pain and aches from excessive weight or improper positioning of a backpack. Pain can lead to avoidance in your favorite activities and reduce desire to be active in life,” said McGee.

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