Small Kids, Big Backpacks

  Filed under: Awareness, Occupational Therapy, Parenting Tips

Is your child’s backpack loaded up and full of books? Is he starting to complain of backaches? Do his shoulders hurt?

Carrying too much weight in a bookbag or wearing the bag incorrectly, can lead to some issues for your student. In fact, a student’s backpack can be the culprit for a number of aches and pains as well as poor posture and weakened muscles.

While you may not be able to do anything about the workload and books your student brings home each day, you can give him some tips to ensure he’s properly using his bookbag to curb unnecessary pain.

Backpack Tips

Loading a backpack:

  • Make sure all items in the bag are needed that day
  • Place the heaviest items against the back of the bag
  • Use outside pockets to carry smaller items
  • Try to fill compartments and pockets evenly to distribute weight

Students who wear their bookbags correctly will also lessen their risk of shoulder and back pain. Make sure your child knows the right and wrong way to wear their backpack.

Wearing a backpack:

  • Utilize both shoulder straps for even weight distribution
  • Tighten the shoulder straps to ensure the bag doesn’t hang loosely on the shoulders
  • Adjust the straps, so the bag sits in the curve of the child’s lower back when worn
  • Wear both the waist and chest straps
  • Wear the backpack only when necessary

Raleigh Therapy Services Occupational Therapist Maria Georgiou added, “Your child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of his total body weight. If it does, speak with his teacher to find a solution to lessen the weight of the bag by reviewing the actual contents he needs to complete his work.” 

Buying a Backpack

Another item to consider in reducing your child’s backpack pain is to determine if you purchased the right bag for him and his school needs.

Important features to consider when selecting a backpack include:

  • Organizational pockets and compartments
  • Waist and chest straps
  • Two wide-padded shoulder straps
  • Extra back padding
  • Lightweight canvas material
  • Structure and size; a book bag should not be larger than the child’s back

Continued Back or Body Pains

If your student continues to experience back or body pains even after discussing the proper way to wear and load his bookbag, you may want to speak with his pediatrician. She may want to see him to assess your concerns and determine if an ergonomic evaluation is needed.