Properly Packing Your Child’s Back Pack To Avoid Back Injuries

Pencils, pens, wide ruled paper, markers, crayons, folders, journal, daily planner, three-ring binders, stapler, staples, glue, tape and heavy back packerasers. Don’t forget to throw in the latest and greatest lunch box as well text books. Here are a few tips to help protect your child’s body from the abundance of goodies that they are carting too and from school each day:

Packing a Back Pack:

  • Your child’s backpack should not weigh more than approximately 10% of their body weight.
  • The heaviest items that your child carries should be packed closest to their back.
  • Arrange books and other school tools in a way in which they are not able to slide around in the backpack.
  • Notice the items that your child takes to and from school each day. Could your child leave some items at school in their cubby or locker?
  • To prevent a back pack from becoming too heavy or tightly packed, your child can carry a book in their arms.
  • If your child’s book bag is still too heavy or bulky after incorporating these strategies, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

Wearing a Back Pack:

  • Ensure that the weight of your child’s back pack is evenly distributed to both shoulders.
  • When choosing a back pack, select one with well-padded shoulder straps.
  • Ensure that the back pack fits snugly on your child’s back. If a waist strap is available, encourage your child to secure it while wearing their back pack.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the back pack rests in the curve of their lower back.
  • Choose the right back pack for your child’s age and size as well as one with enough room for all of their school supplies.

As a parent, you should routinely look for signs, including aching backs and shoulders, tingling arms, weakened muscles and a stooped posture that may result from a back pack that is too heavy or ineffectively packed. For additional tips, speak with a North Shore Pediatric Therapy Occupational Therapist.

*Back Pack Strategies for Parents and Students. The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
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