Summer vacation has ended which marks back to school – a time when parents scramble to organize and re-establish daily routines. A major component of this transitional period is the purchase of school supplies and the perfect backpack to carry these items.
Did you know carrying too much weight in a backpack or wearing it the wrong way can lead to aching back and shoulders, weakened muscles, tingling arms and stooped posture?
A good rule of thumb is to never load a backpack more than 15% of the student's total body weight (i.e. for 100 lb. student, this means that it should not weigh more than 15 lbs.).
The height of the backpack should extend from approximately two inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist.
Here are a few tips:
Load heaviest items closest to the student's back (back of pack) and arrange books and materials so they don’t slide around.
- Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack over one side/shoulder may seem like a cooler trend, but it can cause a student to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
- Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps, adjust the shoulder straps to fit snugly on the back and wear the waist belt if it has one. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back.
- Check to see if the school allows a book bag on wheels - this may be a great alternative for your child if you can’t find the right fit.
Engage Different Age Groups
- Develop good routines for using backpacks and encourage young children to take responsibility for their backpack belongings.
- Due to short attention spans, strategies to engage young children should include fun games and worksheets to reinforce the concepts.
- How to wear the backpack correctly and the relationship between proper wearing and injury prevention is the focus for elementary school children.
- Strategies could include applying skills in math, science and health to backpack safety by naming body parts, determining backpack weight and remembering facts. Concepts can be incorporated into games, and prizes can be given for participation.
- The message for this age group is to respect your body, create a positive body image and make healthy choices when using a backpack.
- Strategies may include group discussions, weigh-ins and emphasis on using a locker to prevent heavy packs.
Backpacks come in a variety of sizes for different ages and choosing the right one for your child can be overwhelming. By investing time to find the best pack, you guarantee a healthier outcome for your child!