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Help Your Kid Make The Grade with Proper Backpack and Computer Health

Backpack & Computer Health

Backpack & Computer Health

Help Your Kid Make The Grade with Proper Backpack and Computer Health

School can be stressful enough for kids without having to worry about the strain and pain that comes with heavy backpacks and poor posture at the computer.

That’s why Hattiesburg Clinic Physical Therapy recommends the following tips from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) when it comes to your kid’s backpack and how they sit at the computer.


Wear both straps.

Use of one strap causes one side of the body to bear the weight of the backpack. By wearing two (both) shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is more evenly distributed.

Position the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles.

  • The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the mid-back.
  • Shoulder straps should be loose enough to put on and take off the backpack without difficulty, and allow free movement of the arms. But the straps should not be so loose that the backpack extends below the low back, or rest on the buttocks.
  • Use the chest and waist straps for additional support.
  • Ideally, the back of the backpack should be padded, and if there are compression straps, they should be used to bring contents of the backpack closer to the spine.

Lighten the load.

  • Keep the load at 10-15 percent or less of the child’s body weight.
  • Children come in all shapes and sizes. So do backpacks. Pick a backpack that is the correct size for your child.
  • Carry only those items that are required for the day. Some students have two sets of books, so as not to have to carry the heavy books to and from school. Reassess and repack each day, so that unnecessary items do not remain in the backpack.
  • Keep the backpack load evenly distributed. Organize the contents by placing the heaviest items closest to the back.


Consult a physical therapist if your child complains of neck, shoulder or back pain that you think might be related to an ill-fitting backpack. Some children have physical limitations that might require special adaptations. A physical therapist can help determine the best fit to help avoid further injury or pain.


  1. Keep feet on the ground. Make sure that the child’s feet are touching the ground or a stool when seated. Knees should be at a 90-degree angle. This distributes weight better and takes pressure off the upper body. Consider investing in a height-adjustable chair, or use a stool.
  2. Sit up straight. Make sure that the child sits tall with weight on the buttocks and feet. The pelvis should be straight up and down.
  3. Eyes level with screen. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the top of the child’s head is parallel with the top of the screen ¾ “top-to-top.” Anything less could lead to neck strain.
  4. Forearms parallel. Make sure that forearms are parallel to the floor and the elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  5. Shoulder blades settled. Shoulder blades should be settled on the back of the ribs, not in an arched or hunched
  6. Correct mouse. For smaller children, consider investing in a kid-sized mouse. Children using an adult-sized mouse are at greater risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. The larger mouse forces the hand into an awkward position and the muscles become over­stretched and fatigued.
  7. Rest the eyes. Children should look away from the computer as often as possible and focus on distant objects. Staring uninterrupted at a computer screen for long periods of time can cause eye-strain and headaches.
  8. Take a break. Encourage a mandatory break from the computer at least every 20 minutes.
  9. Stretch and move. Do stretches such as head turns, shoulder rolls and marching in place while If practical, get up and exercise to keep muscles and joints warm and flexible
  10. Watch for problems. Look for warning signs such as headaches, fatigue, muscle pain or cramping and intervene early. Post these rules near the computer and make them part of a daily, healthy routine!

Please note these tips are not intended as a substitute for professional health care. If your child is complaining with back or shoulder pain, consult with your family physician.

About Hattiesburg Clinic Physical Therapy

Hattiesburg Clinic Physical Therapy is committed to providing individual treatment programs for patients suffering from movement issues and other associated disorders. Their six physical therapy departments, located throughout South Mississippi, are staffed with dedicated physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. They can be reached at (601) 268-5757. To learn more about their services, visit www.hattiesburgclinic.com.

(Source: American Physical Therapy Association)

Katie Townsend


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