Backpacks Can Backfire - Avoid Back Pain this School Year

Easing the Load: A Parent’s Guide to Pain-Free Backpacks

With back-to-school season upon us, stuffed backpacks will once again be hoisted onto students’ shoulders across Kansas City. While handy for transporting books, devices, and supplies, backpacks can strain developing muscles and spines when worn incorrectly.

Follow these tips to ensure your child’s backpack doesn’t weigh them down this academic year:

Choose the Right Backpack

  • Select a lightweight backpack with wide, padded straps to prevent digging. Look for bags with multiple compartments to organize gear.
  • Ensure the backpack is proportionate to your child’s torso size. It should not extend below the low back.
  • Bags with chest and waist straps help distribute weight across the upper body. Compression straps stabilize the load.
  • Wheeled backpacks ease the burden for kids who walk long distances. Convertible bags allow switching between wear and wheel modes.

Use Proper Wearing Techniques

  • Two shoulder straps are a must for even weight distribution. One-shouldering looks laidback but strains muscles.
  • Position the backpack squarely over the mid-back region. It should not sag low on the hips.
  • Adjust straps so the backpack sits close to the body and your child can easily slip it on and off.
  • Help kids pack the bag properly, with heavier items near the back and frequently used gear in easy reach.

Watch the Weight

  • Overloaded bags place unhealthy force on growing spines and muscles. Only transport essentials.
  • Shoot for a pack weight of 10-15% of your child’s body weight or less. Weigh bags periodically.
  • Consider keeping a second set of books at home to minimize what has to be carried. Or pack binders vs heavy texts.
  • Lighten the load by swapping out metal pens/pencils, bulky notebooks, and extras like sports gear.

Address Any Pain

  • Backpack-related back, shoulder, or neck pain warrants attention. Don’t brush it off.
  • Pain persisting longer than 2 weeks calls for a trip to the pediatrician to rule out musculoskeletal injury.
  • Physical therapists can relieve backpack-related pain through massage, mobilization, posture re-training and therapeutic exercise.

With some savvy backpack tactics, you can send your child off prepared and comfortable for the school days ahead. Here’s to lightening the load so learning can take center stage!

Don’t Ignore Any Pain

Backpack-related back, shoulder, or neck pain warrants attention. Don’t brush it off or hope it resolves on its own. Pain persisting longer than 2 weeks calls for an evaluation by one of our physical therapists.

At TruMove Physical Therapy, our experts can relieve backpack-related pain through massage, joint mobilization, posture re-training, and therapeutic exercise. We take a hands-on approach to evaluating any pain or range of motion issues your child might be experiencing. Being proactive about backpack-related pain can help minimize lost learning time and avoid developing chronic issues.

This back-to-school season, lighten the load so your child can focus on reaching their academic potential. Schedule your appointment with TruMove today to ensure your student’s backpack doesn’t hold them back.