At the start of the every school year you find tips for how to properly have you, or your child, wear a backpack. Over time, school work piles up and the bag seems to become crammed with more items. The weight slowly increases....and soon, back or neck pain/soreness develops.
Although the idea of wearing a backpack is very sound, more times than not it is worn incorrectly and negatively affects your, or your child's, pain and posture.
Just because the school year is well underway, does not mean your body should be neglected.
Here are some tips for properly wearing a backpack.
1) Use a bag that is light weight
You surely do not want to carry around added pounds because of the fabric that the bag is composed from.
2) Use all of the compartments of your bag
Those smaller sections of the backpack are not meant to stay empty, or be stuffed with garbage or useless items. Backpacks are designed to allow for distribution of weight. The heavier items should be kept closest to your spine. The lighter items can be placed further away.
3) Padding is GOOD!
Some cushion in the straps of the bag will allow for increased comfort in the region of your neck and shoulders. TAKE ADVANTAGE!
4) ALWAYS use both straps
None of this "cool kid" back pack use, or just plain and simple...being lazy. Using both straps of the backpack allows for move even weight distribution, which reduces the chances of pain development.
5) ONLY PACK WHAT YOU NEED
Every school year I see children who have backpacks that are pretty much bigger than them! The child tries to tell me that he/she needs everything in the bag, which is possible....but this is not ideal for posture!
It is recommended a backpack be NO MORE than 15% of the carrier's body weight! That's right! Doing the math tells me that almost every child carries a bag that is too heavy.
6) Position, Position, POSITION!
Wearing a backpack too low will cause the spine to move out of its neutral position to counteract the additional force. A backpack should be situated in the middle of the back, NOT resting on the lower back!
Not following these guidelines may contribute to development of neck or back pain, shoulder pain, headaches, or postural changes....ALL of which may land you, or your child, as a patient under the care of a physical therapist.
How can physical therapy help?
A physical therapist will be able to assess proper backpack fit and evaluate and treat any pain that has developed as a result of improper backpack use. A PT will aide in postural re-education and strengthening of the core musculature.
Questions? Think your, or your child's pain is related to use of a back pack? Call us or stop in for a consult.