When I went for a recent dress fitting, the tailor put his hands on my shoulders: “You wore your school bag on this side,” he said, tapping my right shoulder. “Yes, how did you know?” I asked. He stepped back and I could clearly see in the mirror that my right shoulder was significantly lower than my left. I was shocked to think that something as simple as a school backpack had had such a dramatic impact.
One of the biggest influences on your child’s growing frame is their backpack. The weight and position of a backpack not only determines their posture, but can actually cause long-term injury. Picking the right backpack will offer them the support they need and may mitigate back and neck problems in the future. If your child has had the same backpack for a while, it may be time to choose a new one that offers them the support they need.
Here are a few easy guidelines to follow when choosing a backpack:
- Backpacks should have duel straps that are adjustable. This helps to evenly distribute the weight over both shoulders. Padded straps can also go a long way to making the bag more comfortable.
- Adjust the straps to suit your growing child and check them after each growth spurt. The heaviest part of the backpack should be at about waist height. Don’t let them lengthen the straps so that the backpack hangs below waist height, even if it is more fashionable.
- If you can, get them to wear a padded waist strap too as this helps to take the weight off the shoulders and lower back.
- Even better than a backpack is a bag with wheels. Many brands have both wheels and straps so you can wear the bag on your back when walking on uneven terrain or in the snow and wheel it behind you on paved surfaces and floors.
- Measure to make sure that the bag you select will fit into a locker.
- A student should never carry a backpack with a weight that exceeds 10%-15% of their body weight. Weigh your child’s backpack on a bathrooms scale. If you find that the backpack is consistently heavier, it may be time to talk to the teachers about ways in which to reduce the number of books that have to go between home and school.
- You may also consider a different backpack if your child’s is too heavy. Opt for a lightweight backpack if your child has many things to carry or if they are smaller in stature.
- Make a wish list of your backpack needs. Be cognizant of size and weight to ensure that it is practical and can carry everything from laptops to ring binders. Opt for comfort over making a fashion statement and go for one that is lightweight and functional.
- Check backpack contents to ensure that they are regularly cleaned out so your child isn’t carrying more than they need to.
Pic by Free People