- Posted by Ross De Valle
- On January 30, 2018
With children about to head back school for the 2018 year it’s time to consider their backpack. Carrying a heavy or poorly fitted backpack can place stress on your child’s spine causing them to lean too far forward and contributing to a ‘rounded upper back posture’. At First Choice Health in Vermont South, our physiotherapists have certainly seen this lead to neck, shoulder and back pain in children.
A backpack is preferred over a traditional bag as it allows children to distribute the load evenly over both shoulders. It is recommended that the loaded backpack should weigh less than 10% of the child’s body weight. A recent study on the incidence of back problems in children aged 12-17 years found that 61.4% of children carried more than 10% of their body weight on a daily basis*.
5 things to look for when choosing a backpack:
- Wide shoulder straps that are comfortable and sit well on the shoulder which are adjusted properly to avoid a gap between the backpack and your child.
- Waist and chest straps help to transfer some load away from the shoulder and spreads force more evenly across the body.
- A padded back support will allow the backpack to sit close to the spine and improve comfort.
- The backpack must fit the child. The top of the backpack should not sit higher than the shoulders (allowing your child to look up without restriction), the bottom of the bag should be no lower than the widest part of their hips/pelvis (allowing the correct position of the waist strap) and the front/sternal strap should sit one adult hands width below the child’s collarbone.
- Look for a backpack that carries an endorsement from a professional health organization. The Australian Physiotherapy Association endorses ‘Spartan Physiopaks’.
It also helps to encourage your child to be well organized when packing their backpack in order to avoid carrying unnecessary items to and from school. If in doubt or if you have any other postural questions regarding your children, do not hesitate to contact one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists at First Choice Health in Vermont South.