On September 21, this day is dedicated to school backpack awareness day. The American Occupational Therapy Association along with occupational therapy practitioners, educators, and students across the nation have come together and have advised the public about safety tips to stay protected from back pain while carrying their backpacks or other bags. These tips will teach you how to properly choose, pack, lift, and carry other bags, which include backpacks, purses, briefcases and suitcases.
There are several important steps that parents can take to help their children load and wear their backpacks the correct way to avoid health problems. We will first be discussing about how to properly load a backpack:
- A child’s backpack should weigh no more than about 10% of his or her body weight
- Load the heaviest items closest to the child’s back
- Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack
- Check what your child carries to school and brings home
- If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand carry a book or other items outside the backpack
- If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it
Now that you have your child’s backpack loaded correctly, how should your child wear this backpack?
- Distribute the weight evenly by using both straps: wearing a backpack slung over one shoulder can cause your child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort
- Select a backpack that has well-padded shoulder straps: the shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied
- Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack fits snuggly on your child’s back. A backpack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles
- Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one, this will help distribute the backpacks weight more evenly
- The bottom of the backpack should rest in the curve of the lower back
- School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages
There is a lot that goes into loading and wearing a backpack. It is important to follow these tips in order for your child to avoid back pain. If you would like more information about this topic you can visit: aota.org/Conference-Events/Backpack-Safety-Awareness-Day.aspx for more knowledge on this subject.