As we start to settle back into a routine after a fun summer, our minds go crazy with trying to get our kids ready for school. They may need new uniforms or clothes, school supplies and even a new backpack.
Your child’s backpack is a critical part of their gear, and yet most of us don’t take much thought in choosing the best one. We usually base our choice on style, colour, or design, as opposed to functionality. It is very common for kids to lug around these GIANT bags that seem to be twice their size – this is where serious injuries can occur.
When a child tries to adapt to a heavy load, such as a large and over stuffed backpack, they use harmful postures such as arching their back, leaning forward, or shifting to the side (especially if only one strap is used). These postures distort the spine resulting in neck, shoulder, arm and back pain. If the child carries a heavy improper load for a long time, this can cause the muscles in their back to work harder, leading to fatigue, pain and eventually damage to the spine and nerves.
So here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when searching for the perfect backpack for your child.
Choosing the right backpack:
- Should be made of lightweight material (vinyl or canvas)
- Shoulder straps should be wide and padded
- The top of the backpack should not go higher than the top of your shoulder
- The bottom should not fall past your hipbone
- It should not be too tight along the shoulders and armpits
- There should be lots of compartments and packets to distribute the weight
Packing the Pack:
- Only pack what you need for that day!
- Watch the weight. 10% MAX of body weight for JK-Gr. 8. 15% of body weight for older students
- Place heavy object closest to the body and place light or odd-shaped objects on the outside
How to properly wear a backpack:
- DON’T sling your bag on one shoulder or side. This puts a lot of stress on your joints and muscles.
- DON’T wear your pack too low.
- DO wear both straps and adjust them so the pack fits snug.
- DO use the waist strap. It decreases the strain on your low back.
Don’t Forget about us Adults:
It is very easy to tote a lot of weight back and forth from work and home. But just like backpacks, heavy laptop bags and briefcases take a toll on your neck and shoulders too.
- Choose a bag with lightweight material, wheels, and adjustable straps
- If there is only one strap, make sure it is long, wide, adjustable, and padded
- REDUCE THE WEIGHT and take only what you need
- Consider buying a second set of laptop accessories to avoid carrying heavy adaptors and batteries