Therapist Thursday……Lighten Up the Load

by: Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Students around the country are getting their school supply lists and heading out for back to school shopping!  Here, in North Carolina, we just had our tax-free weekend, so many of our students are ready to go!  I am already trying to figure out how my second grader is going to get all of his supplies to the classroom.  It certainly won’t be in one trip! So, as your students head back to school, and as they bring home all of those books for homework, remember to help them avoid pain and strain on their backs, by lightening the load!


Get on the scale!

Backpacks should weight no more than 15% of the child’s body weight.  This means that for a 50 pound first grader, the backpack should weigh less than 7.5 pounds.  For the 100 pound middle school student, the backpack should weigh less than 15 pounds.  (If you don’t have a scale handy, a gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds. Imagine your first grader carrying that around!)

What’s Inside?

Help your student arrange his or her backpack so that the heaviest items are closest to his back.  Try to pack it so that the items don’t shift or move around.  Unpack it each day and remove items that he won’t need the following day.


Dress Code!

Backpacks are not one size fits all! Find a backpack that fits and wear it light and right!

Be sure to have your student wear both straps!  Ideally, we want the straps to be nice and padded. Wearing only one strap could cause decreased alignment of the spine, which could lead to pain and tingling in the neck, back and arms.

The backpack should rest against the back, with little room for movement.  The waist belt will help keep it in place.  Don’t allow your student to wear the backpack too low.  It should rest in the curve of the low back, above his bottom.



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