NUTLEY, NJ- With each passing school year it seems that backpacks are getting progressively bigger and definitely heavier. Pass any school as children are coming or going and, judging by the the size of the packs on their backs, it may look like a group of explorers preparing to scale Mt. Everest. Although it's difficult to get away from your child having to lug a heavy backpack to and from school, there are ways to make carrying those packs easier on their young backs.  We reached out to Pro Staff Physical Therapy Center in Nutley, NJ and spoke with the Director of the facility, Dr. Samantha Sammaro, PT, DPT to learn what kids can do to prevent back injuries.
"The new school year will be underway soon and we have a few tips for those of you lugging around backpacks on a daily basis" said Dr. Sammaro.  "When choosing a backpack, make sure it's lightweight, and well-padded along the back and at the arm straps. Make sure to wear both straps and fasten the sternum clip across the chest. Adjust all straps accordingly in order to ensure a snug fit."
Dr. Sammaro then addressed using proper form when handling your backpack, "A heavy backpack can lead to poor posture and back pain among other things so, try to keep it light.  The American Physical Therapy Association recommends a backpack weight no greater than 10-15% of your body weight. Lastly, maintain good body mechanics when picking up your bag:  Square off and face it, squat down to retrieve it, and keep it close to the body to avoid over-stressing the lower back."
Be sure to share these tips and the accompanying video with your school aged children. It doesn't take much for a back injury to occur while lifting and putting a heavy backpack down. Dr. Sammaro can be reached at the Nutley Pro Staff office at 973-661-1207.