Backpacks are one of the most useful and versatile inventions to hit the store shelves. When school is in full swing, they are the ubiquitous symbol of childhood, seen carried through the halls of schools all over the world. These useful carry-alls pose a hidden danger, however. Back, neck, and shoulder injuries are commonly attributed to children carrying too heavy a load or improperly carrying backpacks. Here are some helpful hints to keep your student safe while they carry their books.
How Heavy Should My Backpack Be?
Doctors recommend that children carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in a backpack. If you notice that your child is leaning forward, or in the case of children who carry their pack on one shoulder, seem to be pulled to the side by the weight of their pack, check its contents to be sure they’re not bringing home half their locker’s worth of textbooks. If weight is an issue, discuss the problem with the school and see if it would be possible for your child to not carry as many books and other equipment.
Shoulders and Waist
While many kids carry a backpack slung over one shoulder, this is a habit that should be discouraged as much as possible. Properly worn over both shoulders, and preferably using a waist strap to distribute more of the weight to the stronger hip muscles, a backpack’s weight is carried by the stronger muscle groups. When the pack is slung over one shoulder or sits too low on the back, it puts unnecessary strain on the shoulders and neck and may cause back pain and poor posture.
Distribute the Load
When choosing a backpack, look for a design that has multiple pockets, so that items can be better distributed throughout the pack. Utilize pockets to balance the weight throughout the pack. Today’s backpacks often come with a special sleeve to secure laptops and tablets. Use that space to secure heavier books and items to stop the load from shifting and pulling a child off balance.
Don’t allow your child to be injured by a too-heavy backpack. Monitor the weight and load they carry and talk to your doctor about more ways to lighten the load and ensure backpack safety.