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Best backpack advice: Pack it light, wear it right

backpack boy

Does your child complain about an aching back or shoulders, tingling arms or is he or she developing a stooped posture? According to The American Physical Therapy Association, more than half of all students carry a backpack that is heavier than the recommended guidelines.

“Your child’s backpack should never weigh more than 15 percent of his or her body weight, according to those guidelines,” says Melissa Warders, a physical therapist at Ascension Via Christi Therapy Center, 854 N Socora in Wichita.

Here are a few other tips to help protect your kids from backpack-related injuries:

  • The heaviest items in the backpack should be loaded closest to your child’s back.
  • When picking out a backpack, the bottom of the backpack should rest in the curve of the lower back and should never rest more than four inches below the waistline.
  • Both shoulder straps should be worn so that weight is evenly distributed, preventing your child from leaning to one side, which can cause pain. 
  • Selecting a backpack with wide well-padded shoulder straps is also important. 
  • Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied. Straps should be adjusted so the backpack fits snugly to the back to prevent muscle strain and waist straps should be worn if available to help distribute weight more evenly.

To find a physical or occupational therapist, go to to see our convenient locations in Wichita, Derby, Manhattan and Pittsburg and to schedule an appointment.

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.