The new school year has begun! It may mean back to school for you or your kids. While there are elements of remote learning still out there, many schools are back in-person. Recall the days when you left for school and had to carry everything with you: notebooks, pens or pencils, textbooks, a bottle of water, snacks. That list now might also include a laptop or tablet.

That’s a lot to carry! A backpack can get heavy quickly, and that can cause upper back pain, low back pain, or shoulder pain. If you’re not used to carrying a heavy load, or your kids aren’t used to it, aches and pains can arise.

As we’ve said many times, prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Use these simple tips to prevent backpack-related pain.

  1. Lighten the load! I know, I know, this seems obvious, but reconsider whether carrying textbooks back and forth is truly necessary.
  2. Consider a bag with wheels. If it’s crucial to carry a lot of stuff, take the load off your back and let the bag do the work.
  3. Adjust the backpack properly. Most bags have a waist strap, which can help secure the load centrally, so weight is evenly distributed. This also helps to keep a backpack higher on the body, rather than sinking low to the hips which causes increased kyphosis – that is, one must hunch forward in order to compensate for a heavy load on the lumbar spine (low back).
  4. Strengthen your (or your kiddo’s!) back and core. It doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Simply walking with a properly adjusted weighted backpack is functional and effective. Start with a lighter bag, and as it gets easy, add more weight. A “suitcase carry” is a useful exercise, too. Carry a weight in both arms, with the arms straight by the side, and walk up and down a hallway.

Daily life requires strength, more than we realize. Training muscles to carry heavier loads can help prevent injury but planning ahead to avoid having to carry too much is just as effective.

If you or one of your children is having aches or pains since returning to school, come and see us! We’re here to help you and your family.