KALISPELL — Schools in Montana start within in the next couple of months and as kids head back to class, one local doctor is offering up some advice.
Physical therapist Quincy Bennetts is warning against poor backpack fit, noting that studies show an average elementary school kid weighs 60 pounds.
"The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Physical Therapy Association recommend a child not carry a weight more than 15% of their body weight. So, if you think about an elementary school kid that's about 60 pounds, the weight of that pack should be no more than nine pounds,” explained Bennetts.
She says, a poor fitting backpack can take a toll on a child's growing body noting that if it's too heavy -- or is worn for too long -- health consequences can occur.
"If you're improperly carrying a heavy load, or a load that's just too heavy for you that can lead to postural adaptations, muscle strain, joint pain and fatigue your muscles which then can make you more vulnerable to other injuries in your life,” said Bennetts.
Bennetts says there are signs parent' should look for if a child's backpack is too heavy. For example, if parents notice continued shoulder redness or if your child complains about tingling in their arms, or a sore back the backpack needs to be adjusted.
Bennetts told MTN News that an easy way to solve this is to adjust how you carry your backpack load, yYou should pack the heaviest things closest to your back, and the lighter things towards the front of your pack."
This distribution of weight allows your child's back muscles to do the heavy lifting, instead of relying on other muscle groups.
Bennetts also recommends that your child should clean out their backpack every night which gets rid of any excess weight.
If your child is in high school, she recommends parents strategize with their teenagers when would be good times throughout the day to go back to their lockers to drop off or add books.
Bennetts says teenagers tend to carry heavier loads in their backpacks, due to lack of time during the day to go back to their lockers.