Back pack safety

The number of school age children reporting back pain has been sharply on the rise in the last few years.  Increased academic demands and decreased time in between classes have forced children to carry significantly more text books in their back packs which can lead to back and neck pain.  Selecting the correct back pack and carrying it correctly can mean the difference between beginning a vicious cycle of back pain in a child and remaining pain free.  Not taking back pack health serious can be the beginning of many future problems such as numbness in hands and feet, back and neck pain and bulging discs.  This may eventually lead to trips to the doctor or physical therapy. For more information on physical therapy services head to

As a child loads a back pack, the weight of the back pack must be balanced against in order to avoid low back pain.  This causes an abnormal arch in the low back and a jutting forward of the head, putting the neck in poor position.  If the student is to carry the back pack on one side this will cause increased pressure on one side of the bones of the spine and may cause the discs to bulge.

Guidelines to follow when selecting and wearing a back pack:

  1. Pick a back pack that has 2 padded straps
  2. Use both back pack straps when walking, also use any hip or chest belts or additional clips.
  3. Use back packs with rigid frames that will help support the load.
  4. Carry multiple bags, possibly broken up into different parts of the day to grab during each of the stops to the locker.
  5. Avoid carrying heavy sports drink bottles.
  6. Use a back pack with multiple compartments to help distribute the load.  Pack the heavier items closer to your back and the lighter items further away.
  7. Back pack should rest on back, not on butt.
  8. When going to lift the back pack, bend at the knees, not the back.
  9. Try to avoid leaning forward when carrying the back pack.
  10. The weight of the back pack should be no more then 15% of the child\’s body weight and should not exceed 25 pounds total regardless of the child\’s weight.
  11. Discontinue use of the back pack if there are complaints of spasms or numbness and tingling.
If any pain is experienced while carrying a back pack you should seek treatment from a physical therapist.  During physical therapy the cause of your back pain can be determined.  Exercises, manual therapy and posture exercises can help alleviate the pain and return the student to a healthy lifestyle.  Catching this early can eliminate a life time of back pain.
For more information on physical therapy services head to

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