October 27th is recognized as National School Backpack Awareness Day. Did you know there are dos and don'ts for wearing a backpack? Backpacks capture the attention of kids with all different sizes, colors, and shapes; besides this, they aid in the success of a student's academics. When used improperly, backpacks can result in the strain of joints and muscles such as the neck, upper back, shoulder, hip, and knee, as well as tingling arms. To help parents and children safely and properly wear a backpack, below are 8 tips.
- Choose a backpack with two wide padded straps, and a padded back for increased comfort. Narrow straps can dig into shoulders and single straps put too much weight on one side of the body leading to neck and shoulder strain.
- Make sure a loaded backpack is no more than 10% of your child's body weight. A bathroom scale may be used to check.
- Distribute the weight evenly. A waist belt on the backpack will help distribute the weight across the body. Use multiple compartments to distribute items evenly. Place the heaviest items closest to the center of the back.
- Ensure a proper fit. Make sure both straps are tight and the backpack fits close to the body. The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and not sag below the buttocks or pull the wearer backward.
- Avoid backpacks on wheels. While they may seem like a good idea since they don't have to be carried, they're difficult to use on stairs and in the snow.
- Make sure children get enough active play every day and maintain a healthy weight. These will reduce the risk of muscle strain.
- Help facilitate organization. Lessen the backpack's weight to avoid carrying unnecessary items.
- Encourage school locker use to avoid carrying books/supplies all day.
Information borrowed from Akron Children's Hospital.