Backpack Safety and Tips Overview
problems are usually associated with the ails of advancing age. So it may
surprise you to learn that studies performed during the past decade have shown
near epidemic levels of back pain in school children.
what’s causing healthy children to suffer
from daily pain? Signs point to that heavy load of schoolbooks, assignments,
and supplies. The backpack is the center of a child’s
school life. Studies show that children who regularly use backpacks are more
likely to report back pain. Heavier backpacks unquestionably caused more pain,
and when children put their backpacks away, their back pain goes away too.
Is the Backpack to Blame?
themselves probably don’t deserve a bad reputation. Compared
to the alternative options—shoulder bags, messenger bags, or
purses—a backpack is actually the healthiest
way to carry a heavy load. A backpack is designed to distribute the weight of
the load across the strongest muscles in the human body. These are the back and
of this design, backpacks will almost never cause serious or long-term back
pain. Muscle pain caused by backpacks usually occurs because children don’t
wear their backpacks correctly or load them with far too much weight.
it just takes a little common sense and some moderation to prevent
backpack-related back pain. Here are some things to consider when buying and
using a backpack that can save you trouble down the road.
Purchasing a Healthy Backpack
these features when purchasing a backpack to ensure you get one that keeps your
child feeling great.
- Lightweight. Choose a backpack made of canvas or
nylon so there isn’t any extraneous weight to carry around.
compartments. Besides keeping
your child organized, multiple compartments can help to distribute the weight
of books and supplies more evenly throughout the bag.
straps. Make sure your
pack has two fairly wide, padded shoulder straps to distribute the weight of
the pack evenly. Narrow straps can dig into the shoulder.
back. A pack with built-in padding in the back
panel can help take some pressure off your child’s
belt. A waist belt can
take some of the weight of the pack off your child’s back and onto their hips instead.
- General comfort. This may be obvious, but make sure your child
is comfortable wearing the pack. There shouldn’t
be anything that sticks out of the bag and pokes your child, and it should feel
comfortable on their back. Also make sure your child is confident and happy to
use the backpack. Involve them in the decision to ensure you don’t buy something too "uncool."
a backpack that rolls on wheels can help your child avoid back pain. But
rolling backpacks can come with their own set of problems and inconveniences.
They may not fit in school lockers, be difficult to maneuver, and in areas of
the country with inclement weather, they may be impractical (imagine dragging a
wheeled bag through the snow).
Wearing a Backpack Safely
are some tips on how to lessen the physical impact of having to wear a backpack
day after day.
Lighten the Load
pounds may not seem that much, but for a kid who weighs only 75 pounds, that’s
nearly a third of their body weight. Imagine if you had to carry around a
55-pound weight on your back all day. The American
Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
recommends that children should carry no more than 10 percent of their body
weight in their backpacks. To lighten the load, make sure that your child is
only carrying the books they need between classes and for studying at home.
Encourage leaving as much as possible in the locker.
sure your child isn’t slinging the bag over one shoulder.
Backpacks are built with two straps for a purpose. They distribute the weight
of the load across the entire back.
Get the Right Fit
the straps so that the backpack rests snugly against the body and sits
approximately two inches above your child’s waist. If there’s
a waist belt, tighten it across your child’s body. Make sure all straps are also
snug, but not too tight.
to distribute weight evenly among the compartments in the bag, and make sure
that there isn’t too much weight being piled onto the
top of the bag.