A heavy backpack can do more than cause muscle aches in children. The strain can pull neck and shoulder muscles out of place, causing shoulder pain, lower back pain, neck and arm pain, and even permanent injury. With a few precautions, your child can carry the supplies he or she needs without risking injury or muscle pains from the pack.
The first thing to look for in your child’s next backpack isn’t whether it has the latest cartoon character or the “right” colors. Rather, you’ll want to look for the features that will help ensure your child’s safety. Lightweight materials like canvas are better than heavier leather. The pack should have two wide straps so that it can be properly balanced, distributing the load across your child’s shoulders. Look for individual compartments so that the load can be better spread. A hip strap or waist belt adds stability. If your child regularly carries heavy loads, consider a pack with wheels so that it can be pulled rather than carried.
Loading the Pack
Teach your child to pack their items properly for the most comfort while carrying the pack. The heaviest items should go into the bottom so that they are carried low and close to the body. Make use of compartments to balance the weight. Try to balance the load so that it is not heavier on one side, throwing the child off balance. Be sure that bulky or sharp items are packed in such a way as to not press on the child’s back.
Carrying the Backpack
The pack should always be carried using both straps, not slung over one shoulder. The pack should rest approximately 2 inches from the waist, and the top should come to just below the skull for the best balance. If your child must lean forward while walking to keep his or her balance, the pack is too heavy and the load must be reduced.