It’s that time of year again, parents are out on the hunt for everything to check off their child’s back-to-school list. Notebooks, markers, pens and pencils, and that perfect backpack to complete this year’s look. As school begins it is important to make sure your child’s backpack fits correctly. Backpacks, as well as, the load that is carried in the pack are often overlooked. When backpacks are too heavy or are worn incorrectly they can injure the muscles and joints of growing children and teens. The result can be severe pain from strains and sprains on the back and shoulders, and even fractures. An estimated 50% of school children carry too much weight in their backpacks and the number of backpack related injuries in children is increasing. Parents can follow these guidelines from the American Physical Therapy Association to help their family use backpacks safely.
Choose the Right Backpack
It is important to find a backpack that is the correct size. Find a lightweight pack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. The backpack should not be bigger than the length of the child’s torso. Hip straps are not necessary for light loads but are good to use to distribute the weight of the pack to the hips instead of the back.
Make Sure the Weight of the Pack is Distributed Evenly
Always use both shoulder straps when using a backpack. The shoulder straps should be snug, but not too tight, and the child should be able to freely move his or her arms. Keep the pack close to the body and make sure it rests evenly in the middle of the back. The bottom of the backpack should be 2 inches above your child’s waist. Make sure your child can stand up straight and does not need to lean forward to support the load.
Pack Only What Your Child Needs
The backpack should not exceed 10-15% of the student’s body weight. This means that a 50 pound child should only carry 7.5 lbs; a 100 lb student should only carry a maximum of 15 lbs. Spread weight evenly throughout the back pack. Place the heaviest objects such as text books closest to the back.
Remember these tips and save your children from back and shoulder problems this school year!
Photo: Pressfoto / Freepik