School backpack safety guidelines

Much to the joy of parents and the chagrin of children everywhere, it is back to school season. If you are a parent, you are probably hitting the sales for back to school supplies, frantically checking off the endless list of pencils, notebooks, and folders. If you are like me, you may be idly thinking how it’s all going to fit into their new backpack and how are the kids going to carry all the books and folders around all day without hurting their necks, backs, or even shoulders. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) estimates that about 55% of students are carrying around backpacks heavier than the recommended guidelines. This can cause changes in posture on a developing musculoskeletal system that can cause injuries immediately or later on in adulthood.
I’d like to share with you some tips and ideas of how to keep your child’s back healthy this school year and future years.
First, how to choose the right backpack:

  • Make sure the backpack itself is lightweight.
  • Look for two wide, padded shoulder straps, a waist belt can improve the stability even more.
  • Buy a pack with multiple compartments which will allow the weight of the contents to be distributed more evenly.

Now that you have the right backpack, how to wear it properly:

  • Both shoulder straps need to be on both shoulders.
  • Tighten the shoulder straps so the pack fits closely to the body.
  • The backpack should never hang more than 4 inches below the waistline and never be more than 10% of your child’s bodyweight according to the American Chiropractic Association.

You may need to talk to your child about packing only essential supplies…leaving non-essential items at home or school.
Now that you know your child’s back is going to stay healthy, you can now worry about homework, teachers, bus routes……Have a great school year!
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Chiropractic Association
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
American Academy of Pediatrics


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