Spooner Physical Therapy is offering free screenings to students who carry backpacks. Pain from carrying backpacks that are too heavy is common for younger students. Lugging textbooks, folders, lunches and drinks quickly add on extra weight and can lead to strained necks from hunching over, or lower back pain from the weight. On average, a backpack should not weigh more than 10-15% of a person’s body weight. However, children from 6 years-old to 10 years-old weigh an average 50 to 100 pounds. To keep their backpack a safe weight, they should carry a pack weighing five to fifteen pounds. The average textbook weighs about three pounds, showing how easily a pack can become quickly overloaded. Signs of an overweight backpack include red shoulders from the straps, back pain or incorrect posture. To avoid overloading a backpack, students should wear both straps at all times. Students tend to wear a single strap for convenience. However, the uneven weight on the back can cause lower back pain. Wearing the backpack on the mid-back muscles prevents students from hunching over while carrying a sagging pack. Also, be aware of which items are needed for each day to avoid carrying unnecessary weight. Along with some basic guidelines, finding an appropriate backpack is necessary for a student’s safety. When shopping for a backpack, it is common to make utility a primary characteristic.

This can lead to purchasing a pack that is too large for the student. Make sure the size and weight of the backpack is appropriate for the student, along with thick straps and appropriate distribution of weight. Buying a pack with a padded back will provide more comfort for the student. Listening to your child is a sign to investigate if their pack is too heavy. If the student begins to complain of back pain, or red marks appear from their straps, a new pack or lighter load may be necessary. Double checking the contents of the backpack may be useful, as children sometimes carry unnecessary weight from extra unused paper or folders. To assist parents, the Spooner PT staff will assist determining if a student’s backpack is an appropriate fit for each student, completely free of charge. The screening begins by bringing in a backpack filled with the typical items a student takes to school, including their lunch and beverage. Along with weighing the fully loaded bag, the therapists will weigh the child to determine is the bag is not overweight. The therapists will then test the student’s strength, flexibility and analyze their physical structure to carry the pack. The screenings will also determine if the student may need any physical therapy from preexisting pain caused by the bags. Overall, the free service is provided to prepare each student for success by preventing any injury that can be caused by overweight backpacks.

For more information contact:

Ryne Foster, PT, DPT, OCS,

FAFS Clinic Director Spooner

Physical Therapy Desert Ridge

20830 N. Tatum Blvd,

Suite 170 Phoenix, AZ

Telephone: 480-502-5510