Heavy backpacks actually shape your child’s back and, when not worn correctly, they can cause permanent damage and a life of back problems. As a parent, you can help your student to choose a backpack that doesn’t just look good, but also offers the support a growing child needs.
Good posture starts with the right backpack. Sure, that Sponge Bob or Dora the Explorer backpack is cute and older students may prefer designer bags, but you must find a backpack that suits your child’s needs to avoid back and neck pain. Not only should you select the right backpack, you also need to ensure that the backpack is worn correctly. Slinging it over one shoulder or wearing it too low down may lead to physical issues over the long term.
Make the Right Choice
Start with a dual-strap bag. Shoulder bags with a single strap are perfect for light weight loads, but won’t suffice if you are carting a couple of text books and a laptop to school. A dual-shoulder bag will allow for the even distribution of weight which will lead to good posture and alleviate shoulder pain.
Many students like to wear the bags really low down so they hang near the thigh. Reduce the length of the straps so that the heaviest part of the bag is at waist height. If your child has to carry really heavy loads, find a bag with a waist strap that will transfer the weight from the shoulders to the waist. This may be a hard sell for older students as these kinds of bags are not fashionable. If this is the case, find other ways of reducing the load like leaving textbooks at school in lockers or using online books for homework and assignments. Don’t hesitate to ask teachers to find solutions if your child has to carry home heavy textbooks on a regular basis.
With heavier loads, choose backpacks which have padded shoulder straps to alleviate shoulder pain. Another solution here would be a bag with wheels. Here the student can avoid any kind of back, neck and shoulder pain and have an easier time moving their heavy bags around. Just be sure to choose a bag that will still fit into a locker.
How Heavy is too Heavy?
When you are considering a bag and the impact of the contents, the rule of thumb is that students shouldn’t carry more than 10-15% of their body weight. Selecting a lighter backpack will help to keep the weight down.
Encourage regular cleanouts so that there aren’t things in your child’s backpack that they don’t absolutely need.
Caring for your backpack will help to extend its life. Don’t machine-wash backpacks; instead submerge them in a tub of warm water and scrub with soap and a brush.