It’s a ritual of the new school year: shopping for fresh supplies, sharpening new pencils and picking out the perfect backpack to carry it all.
Once you have the perfect pack, it’s important to use it correctly. Most backpacks are designed to distribute the weight of the load among some of the body’s strongest muscles. Backpacks that are too heavy or carried incorrectly can injure muscles or joints and contribute to muscle fatigue, poor posture, pain in the shoulders and neck, as well as injuries from tripping and falling. Here are some backpack tips to keep in mind this school year.
The proper backpack is:
- No wider than the child’s chest.
- Worn no higher than the base of the neck.
- Worn no lower than 2 to 4 inches below the waist.
- Supported by a waist or a chest strap.
To help prevent pain and injury kids should:
- Lift with the legs: Bend at the knees, hold the backpack with both hands, then straighten the knees to lift the pack to waist height.
- Use both shoulder straps.
- Adjust shoulder straps to fit snugly between the neck and the curve of the lower back.
- Avoid carrying an overloaded backpack. For heavy loads, consider hand-carrying larger books or using a backpack with wheels.
A backpack is too heavy if:
- It forces the child to lean forward.
- It weighs more than 15% of the carrier’s weight. (To determine the proper maximum weight, multiply the child’s body weight by 0.15.)