Backpack making the grade?

There are hundreds of backpack styles out there. They come in a huge variety of sizes, colours, fabrics and shapes, so how are you meant to know which pack is the right one for your child?

Compared with shoulder bags, messenger bags or purses, backpacks are far better and safer because the strongest muscles in the body; the back and the abdominal muscles, support the weight of the packs.

When worn correctly, the weight in a backpack is evenly distributed across the body, and shoulder and neck injuries are less common than if someone carried a briefcase or purse.

Though as useful as backpacks are, they can strain muscles and joints and may cause back pain if they’re too heavy or are used incorrectly. So here are a few tips to help you find your child the right backpack.

Backpack problems

Kids sometimes have backaches because they lug around their entire locker’s worth of books, school supplies, and assorted personal items all day long. Most doctors and chiropractors recommend that kids carry no more than 10% to 15 per cent of their body weight in their backpacks.

Students who wear their backpacks over just one shoulder may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight and as a result, they might develop lower and upper back pain and strain their shoulders and neck.

Improper backpack use can also lead to poor posture. Girls and younger kids may be especially at risk for backpack-related injuries because they’re smaller and may carry loads that are too heavy.

Also, backpacks with tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves.

Lastly, bulky or heavy backpacks don’t just cause back injuries; carrying a heavy pack changes the way kids walk and increases the risk of falling, particularly on stairs where the backpack puts the student off balance.

Purchasing a safe pack

Before you buy that trendy new backpack your kid or teen has been begging you for, consider the backpack’s construction.

A lightweight pack that doesn’t add a lot of weight to your child’s load would be the best option. Additionally, a pack with two wide, padded shoulder straps will prevent the pack becoming uncomfortable on the shoulders.

Also, a padded back will add extra comfort and a waist belt will help to distribute the weight more evenly across the body. Multiple compartments will further help to evenly distribute weight.

What Kids Can Do

A lot of the responsibility for packing lightly, and safely, rests with kids.

So, remind your child to use their locker or desk frequently throughout the day instead of carrying the entire day’s worth of books in their backpack.

Encourage kids to bring home only the books needed for homework or studying each night to save them lugging the books to and from school unnecessarily.

Lastly, make sure they use all of the backpack’s compartments, putting heavier items, such as textbooks, closest to the centre of the back.

Every student needs a backpack but before picking one at random, make sure to follow these simple tips to ensure the pack is safe for your child.

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