Active Healing Centre

PC Athletes

In Training

With the return of school kids in September, are they computer athletes in training?

If you watch their posture (and backpacks), they are weighed down by books, pens, and paper that no hurricane could ever blow over. They are heavy on the upper back and light on the hips, when it should be the other way around.

When worn correctly, the weight should be evenly distributed across the body, taking the strain off the shoulder and neck area.

Added to this weight are laptops with small keyboards, which collapse the neck and compress the shoulders. The resulting postural woe shows up as a rounded upper back and compensating neck in an extended position. If it wasn’t so painful to look at, it would be comical to see.

The accepted rule of thumb is for children to carry no more than 10 to 15% of their body weight in their packs.

When the weight is improperly distributed, the force can pull a child backward. To compensate, they bend forward at the hips or arch the back, causing the spine to unnaturally compress.

Other considerations:

Improper use can also lead to poor posture. Smaller children are especially at risk.

Packs with tight, narrow straps dig into the shoulder interfere with circulation and nerves, resulting in numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms and hands.

Carrying a heavy pack increases the risk of falling, especially with a student off balance.

Proper pack use:

Limit to 10 to 15% of child’s body weight.

Use both shoulder straps

Encourage children to use their locker or use only the necessary books

Put heavier items (textbooks etc) closest to the centre of the back


See your doctor if the pain persists or doesn’t go away within a day or two.
See your therapist if treatment is recommended.