Your Child’s Backpack: Tips for proper fit & injury prevention
It’s that time a year again. If you have school-aged children, you are inevitably preparing for the start of school and in seek of all of the school supplies on their list. As you send them off to school on that first day and their backpacks are loaded up with lunches, binders, and books, let’s make sure they have a backpack that actually fits them. Not only should you buy a backpack that is the correct size, but you should also adjust the straps and pack it so the weight is evenly distributed. When a backpack is too heavy or worn incorrectly, a child will adjust their posture to help carry the heavy load. This can lead to improper alignment of the spine, sore joints, and increased stress on the muscles in the neck, shoulder and back.
What is the proper fit of a backpack?
A good ergonomic backpack should be no larger than the child’s back, the shoulder straps should be comfortable on the shoulders, and their arms should be able to move normally. The top of the backpack should be placed high on the child’s back. The entire loaded backpack should rest between the shoulders and the waist. Look for the bottom of the backpack to hit at the natural contour of the back – not covering up their bum.
How to select a “healthy” backpack?
Look for a lightweight backpack with contoured, padded shoulder and chest straps that are adjustable to help balance out the weight. Wide shoulder straps will help prevent the straps from cutting off circulation and digging into the skin. Also look for multiple compartments to help position the contents of the backpack.
How to develop “healthy” backpack habits?
- A loaded backpack should never be heavier than 10 percent of a child’s weight.
- Always use both shoulder straps and adjust them to make sure the backpack fits snugly to your child’s body. You should be able to fit a finger easily between the shoulder strap and the child’s shoulder. If the backpack has them, use the waist and chest straps help keep the load close to the child’s body.
- Load the backpack so that the larger items are closest to the child’s back so that the weight will be evenly balanced and use smaller compartments and pockets for loose items.
- Pick up the backpack properly – teach your child to bend both knees and lift the backpack with both hands to protect his/her back.
Let’s keep our children happy & healthy as they start another school year! If you have any questions about how to properly select and fit a backpack, please don’t hesitate to ask us!