Back To School Backpack Safety
School can be a pain… Literally.
It’s time to talk about kids and backpack safety. They come in all shapes and sizes and help kids express their own personal style. When used correctly, they’re incredibly helpful. Many backpacks come with various pockets that help students stay organized during their daily commute to school. However, backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teenagers. Poorly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.
Wearing a backpack correctly and proper fit
When worn correctly, the weight in a backpack should be evenly distributed across the body, lessening the stress on muscles and joints. Make sure kids use both shoulder straps. Bags that are thrown over the shoulder or across the chest aren’t as effective at distributing the weight as bags with two wide shoulder straps and may strain muscles. The pack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and not sag down to the buttocks. Also, tighten the straps enough for the backpack to fit closely to the body.
Tips on selecting a backpack
The National Safety Council recommends looking for a backpack with:
- An ergonomic design
- The correct size: never wider or longer than your child’s torso and never hanging more than 4 inches below the waist
- Padded back and shoulder straps
- Hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight to the hips and torso
- Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight
- Compression straps on the sides or bottom to stabilize the contents
- Reflective material
As a parent, it is valid to be concerned about the long-term effects a heavy bag can have on your child’s maturing body. If your child is complaining of pain that you suspect is due to his or her backpack, check the weight of the pack and the way in which it’s being worn to fix potential problems before they start. Just remember, no matter how well-designed the backpack, less weight is always better.
If your child is still complaining of pain after you’ve checked and lightened the load, get in touch with us for a screening. One of our pediatric therapists can assess your child’s areas of discomfort and provide next-step suggestions in care.
Wishing you and your kiddos a happy and safe school year!