Tips for making back to school less back breaking
If your child seems to be carrying a weight on their shoulders this school year – it just may be their backpack. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions a full backpack should be no more than 20 percent of a child’s weight. If your child is 80 pounds, their backpack should not weigh any more than 16 pounds. For more tips on the perfect pack, we checked in with Rebecca Hecox, PT, CDT-LANA, WCC, of CMC’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services.
-Start with the lightest backpack you can find in terms of material. Weigh it while empty and know that a canvas material is going to weigh more to start with than a durable nylon.
-Look that the backpack is an appropriate size and is worn correctly. A huge, bulky bag won’t be right for a first grader. A backpack needs to rest in the middle of the back, not at the tailbone. Wide, padded straps and a padded back are helpful, as is a waist belt, in properly distributing and cushioning weight.
-Pack a backpack with heavier items closer to the back and go through it once a week to take out what’s not needed and lighten the load.
In many schools, laptops have taken the place of piles of thick, heavy textbooks. But even lighter weight technology can be cause for physical concern. Limit the time your kids are on their computer and make them get up and walk around every once in a while. There are apps that allow you to set an alarm to help with this. Have your kids avoid doing work on their bed or use a lap desk to support their laptop. A hunched position, especially over a long period of time, is bad for posture so try to have them do computer work at a desk instead and consider an external keyboard to bring the screen in line with the face.
Being mindful of how your child’s growing body is carrying the weight of schoolwork can help avoid potential problems, especially if they have a risk for scoliosis. If you notice that your child has persistent pain or numbness, consider making an appointment with a physical or occupational therapist at CMC Outpatient Rehabilitation Services