New England Sinai Physical Therapy Helps Get You Backpacking Back to School

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


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As summer comes to a close and back to school sales are in full swing, new backpacks will likely be part of your back-to-school purchases. A child’s safety and health are essential and ensuring the proper fit and packing of a backpack is important.

For optimal backpack fit, think of these points:

  • Two padded shoulder straps are necessary to maintain equal and balanced pressure through the shoulders and back.
  • Two inch wide straps better support the backpack load through the shoulders.
  • A hip belt over the hips supports 80-90% of the load and offers relief from pressure on shoulders.
  • Padded back support will protect the back from objects poking through the backpack.
  • Position of the backpack should be slightly below the shoulders and should extend no greater than 4” below the waist, not hips!
  • A chest or sternum strap securely holds shoulder straps and backpack in place; also assisting with posture.
  • Ensure backpack continues to allow easy and non-restricting movements with all straps in place.

In packing a backpack:

  • Place larger and heavier items against the back support to be closest to the child’s body.
  • If multiple compartments are present, distribute the lighter items to better use space available.
  • Make sure items are flat and no sharp objects like pencils or pens are horizontal. These objects have the potential to poke through the backpack lining causing injury.

To maintain strength and flexibility, consider the following exercises:

  • Shoulder rolls: Bring shoulders up towards ears, back, and down. Repeat x10.
  • Chest doorway stretch: Stand in doorway with right and left forearm against frame and fingers pointed towards ceiling, step through the doorway with 1 leg until a stretch is felt across the chest. Hold x 30 seconds.
  • Shoulder blade squeeze: Squeeze shoulder blades together without elevating shoulders, hold for 2-3 seconds and then slowly relax to starting position. Repeat x10.
  • Back extension stretch: Place hands on your low back, gently extend backwards. Hold x 15 seconds. Repeat 2-3x.
  • Neck sidebending stretch: Hold your upper body still, tip one ear to your shoulder as if you are holding a telephone between your ear and shoulder. Hold x 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

If back, shoulder or neck pain is limiting your carrying ability, call New England Sinai Physical Therapy in Stoughton, MA.

To schedule an appointment, please call us at 781-297-1383.

Visit us on Facebook at:!/NewEnglandSinaiHospitalPhysicalTherapySportsRehab.

Alissa O’Leary, DPT, is an employee at New England Sinai Hospital.

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