Children’s Health: Backpack Awareness

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

With kids, it is important to learn proper backpack safety to protect your children’s posture and prevent injury.  Learning proper fit and adjustment techniques can help increase comfort and prevent back and shoulder pain. First, it’s important to pick the appropriate size backpack for your child. The backpack shouldn’t be much larger than the child’s back and shouldn’t hang very far below the waist.

When it comes to fitting a backpack, it’s all about posture. Wearing a backpack too high or too low on the back can lead to slouching or hunching forward to carry the weight. Position your child’s backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles, allowing it to rest evenly and the child to easily put on and remove the pack. The bottom of the backpack should rest on the lower back or hips.

Properly fitting the backpack with the shoulder straps can significantly reduce discomfort. When a backpack is fitted correctly, the weight is evenly distributed across the back and shoulders. Wearing a backpack too low or too high on the back can shift the way the weight is carried to rely more on the lower back, neck or shoulders, which can stress those muscles.

If your child is complaining of pain from their backpack, try repositioning it using the shoulder straps. Chest and waist straps can also be useful to help distribute the weight across the body. The exceptional team of physical therapists and related healthcare providers at Cone Health are dedicated to educating families and individuals in the community about proper safety and injury prevention techniques.

Spokesperson Background:

Patrick McNamara is a sports medicine physical therapist with Cone Health Physical and Sports Rehab Center Burlington. He received his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Denison University in Ohio and his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Brooke Powell is a doctor of physical therapy student at Elon University. She received her Bachelor of Science in health sciences and will graduate with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Elon University in December 2017.