17:00 PM

ATI Physical Therapy Weighs in on National Backpack Safety Awareness Day

On September 19, 2012, ATI Physical Therapy joins the American Occupational Therapy Association to recognize National School Backpack Awareness Day. With over 55 percent of children carrying backpack loads heavier than the maximum recommended weight (15 percent of a child’s body weight), it becomes increasingly important to make students and parents aware of proper backpack usage and wear. 

“Improper backpack wear leads to faulty postures and eventually improper spinal alignment,” says Mark Halley, a physical therapist at ATI Physical Therapy’s Rosedale, Md., location. “It’s important for parents and children to understand how to select and wear the right backpack to avoid any long-term problems.” 

Halley shares the following tips from nationally-recognized researchers at the American Physical Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, and Move Forward PT

  • Keep it close: Put the heaviest books closest to your back. The farther the weight is from your back, the harder your muscles have to work. 
  • Never more than four below: A backpack should never hang more than four inches below your waist and should fit comfortably below the shoulders.
  • Don’t let it lean: Using only one strap puts extreme pressure on one side of the body. Slip on both straps for more even weight distribution. 
  • Put on some padding: Look for backpacks with two widely padded shoulder straps to protect the shoulders and better distribute weight. 
  • Wear the waist belt: Choosing a backpack with a waist belt (and using it!) can help transfer some of the weight from the back and shoulders to the hips and torso. 
  • Clean it out: Regularly go through your backpack and make sure you need everything that’s in there. If you don’t, pull it out to help lighten your load. 
  • Try out a new set of wheels: If your school allows it, consider a backpack on wheels. This helps forgo any weight issues by bearing a backpack that’s too heavy. 

To speak to a physical therapist about spinal issues resulting from improper backpack wear, contact Abby Stollar, Public Relations Coordinator, by phone at 302-561-1113 or by email at Abigail.stollar@atipt.com