The first day of school is right around the corner, and many kids have a big, new backpack that they can't wait to show off to their classmates. However, a large, overstuffed bag could lead to serious back and shoulder injuries that could affect your child for years to come.
Before you begin to stuff books, food, and school supplies into your child's backpack, review these tips from the Minnesota Chiropractic Association to prevent unnecessary backpack-related injuries:
Find the right size backpack. The backpack should never be wider or longer than your child's torso, and the pack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
Non-padded straps are not only uncomfortable but also place unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles.
Have your child use both straps. Lugging a heavy backpack by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, lower back pain and poor posture.
Make sure the straps are adjustable. The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. The backpack should be evenly centered in the middle of your child's back.
Buy a backpack with a padded back. A padded back not only provides increased comfort but also protects your child from being poked by sharp edges on school supplies (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.
Look for a pack with several compartments. A backpack with individualized compartments helps position the contents more effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back, and try to place the heaviest items closest to the body.
If your child seems to hunch or complain of back pain, try to pack less in the backpack. The MCA recommends that students carry no more than 10% of their body weight in their backpacks.
The backpack should have two padded shoulder straps.
Keep all of these tips in mind when searching for the right backpack for back to school this year.
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