Using backpacks correctly can reduce chance of aches as adults

Using backpacks correctly can reduce chance of aches as adults

With the start of school looming, parents should be aware of the dangers and preventable steps of poorly used or overloaded backpacks, according to physical therapists at Quentin Mease Community Hospital.

They highlight that preventing pain now can help reduce kids' chances of developing neck, shoulder or back pain as adults. Each year in the United States, approximately 10,000 school-aged children visit doctors or emergency centers for backpack-related injuries.

Sara Zehr, PT, doctor of physical therapy, Quentin Mease Community Hospital, explained: "With more than 40 million American students carrying backpacks in school, it's no wonder that this is a concern for parents, teachers, school administrators and healthcare professionals."

When backpacks are used incorrectly they can cause injuries to muscles and joints that can lead to severe back, neck and should pain. In addition, they can cause changes in posture and body mechanics.

Backpack education consists of three areas, according to Dana Tew Jr., PT, OCS, doctor of physical therapy and program manager, Physical Therapy Orthopaedic Residency Program. These areas are: recognition when a backpack is too heavy; identification of desirable backpack features; and instructions in the proper way to pack and wear a backpack.

According to The American Physical Therapy Association and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a 60 pound child should carry a maximum of 5 pounds, a 60-75 pound children should carry a maximum of 10 pounds, 100 pound child, 15 pounds, and 125 pound child, 18 pounds.

When Is A Backpack Too Heavy?

  • Red marks left on shoulders by shoulder straps
  • Noticeable changes in posture
  • Struggling to put on or take off the backpack
  • Tingling or numbness in the shoulders, arms or hands
  • Pain when wearing the backpack
  • Which Backpacks Are Best?

  • Choose a backpack with multiple compartments so weight can be distributed equally and items are easier to find.
  • A backpack should match the length of the child's torso. The pack should not be larger than the child's back. For a proper fit, measure the back width from one shoulder to the other, then measure the length of the back from shoulder line to waist line and add 2 inches.
  • Two contoured and wide padded shoulder straps are recommended to reduce pressure on the torso and shoulders by equally distributing weight.
  • Use hip and chest belts when the load is heavy to transfer weight from the back and shoulders to the hips and torso.
  • A padded back is recommended to reduce pressure and to enhance comfort so that contents do not put added pressure to the child's back.
  • What Is The Correct Way To Wear A Backpack?

  • Pack flat items where they will rest on the back, with bulky items away from the back.
  • Pack heavier items at the bottom or closer to the back.
  • Use both shoulder straps.
  • Tighten the shoulder straps so the backpack hangs slightly below the shoulders with no more than four inches hanging below the waist line.
  • Consider using separate lighter packs for separate activities.
  • Use the waist and chest straps.
  • In most cases, back and/or shoulder pain should be gone within 7-14 days. However, if symptoms persist for more than a few weeks they should be treated in order to prevent more chronic problems and occurrence of future problems later in life.

    According to the Harris County Hospital District, parents should visit a physical therapist for an assessment if the pain interferes with a child's daily school or home life.

    How to Avoid Back Strain with a Backpack (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

    Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice