Back to School Shouldn’t Be Back Breaking

Back to School Shouldn’t Be Back Breaking


New clothes and school supplies are a sure sign that summer fun is over and it’s time to start cracking the books. But when books and supplies are carried on a child’s back, it’s important to make sure the pack isn’t overloaded or worn incorrectly – which can cause back, neck and shoulder pain.

To help, Proliance Orthopedic Associates’ STAR Physical and Hand Therapy is hosting FREE backpack checks Aug. 23 and 25. Parents can bring their children in with their loaded backpacks at 9:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. STAR Physical and Hand Therapy is located near IKEA at 8009 S. 180th St., Suite 112 in Kent.

“Backpacks are designed to efficiently carry a load by distributing the weight of the load to the body’s stronger muscles,” said Joshua Billstein, an occupational therapist at STAR Physical and Hand Therapy.

Over time, constantly carrying a backpack wrong or a pack that is too heavy can contribute to problems with posture, Billstein said.

When buying a backpack for your child, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and STAR Physical and Hand Therapy recommend the following:

  • Wide, padded shoulder straps. Narrow straps can dig into the shoulders, causing pain and restricting circulation.
  • Two shoulder straps. Backpacks with one shoulder strap running across the body do not distribute weight evenly.
  • A waist strap to help distribute the weight of a heavy load more evenly.
  • A lightweight backpack, so the pack itself is not adding too much weight to the load.
  • Rolling backpacks for students who frequently have heavy loads to carry; keep in mind rolling backpacks need to be carried up any stairs.
  • Always use both shoulder straps. Carrying a pack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • Tighten the straps so the pack carries close to the body. The backpack should carry two inches above the waist.
  • Keep the load light. A backpack should never way more than 20 percent of the carrier’s bodyweight.
  • Pack heavier items closer to the center of the pack.
  • When wearing a backpack, always bend using both knees – do not bend at the waist.
  • Remove some of the load whenever possible with visits to a locker at school.

For more information about backpack safety, click here.
For information about the backpack checks, call STAR Physical and Hand Therapy at 425-226-7827.