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AOTA’s National School Backpack Awareness Day takes place on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.

Has your child ever reported tingling of arms, pain or aching in the knees, hips, back, neck or shoulders, tingling of arms, or standing with a stooped posture?

These may be symptoms associated with not wearing their backpack correctly or carrying too much weight. Backpacks should not weigh more than 10% of one’s body weight in a child.

September 18, 2019 is National Backpack Awareness Day recognized by the American Occupational Therapy Association. Read our blog for some tips on how to avoid pain related to backpack carrying.

Tips to avoid Backpack health related problems:

  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back and arrange books or materials to prevent them from sliding. Lighter items in the front of the backpack and sharp items away from the back. Multiple pockets in backpacks help distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
  • Always wear both shoulder straps. Wearing only one can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • Make sure the backpack has well padded shoulder straps. Too much pressure on shoulders and necks can cause pain and tingling.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack fits snugly to the child’s back. The bottom of the pack should rest on the curve of the lower back, never more than four inches below the waistline.
  • Use a waist belt, if available, to help distribute the backpack’s weight more evenly.
  • Have you noticed how many books and other items your child carries to and from school every day? Check what your child is carrying to school and is bringing home to make sure the items are necessary for the day.
  • If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand carry a book or other item outside the pack.

If you would like to consult an occupational therapy practitioner about an ergonomic evaluation regarding backpacks, please feel free to contact Crawl Walk Jump Run Therapy to speak to an Occupational Therapist.

Written by: Tracy Atkinson, COTAL

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