Backpacks are one of the most practical school items and allow kids to carry just one bag instead of juggling P.E kits, school books and science equipment separately. Even though backpacks are useful, often they can get extremely heavy, causing strain on your kids’ muscles, joints and cause back pain. That’s why it’s important to choose one that’s suitable for your child before they start the new school term.
What problems can a backpack cause?
Surprisingly backpacks can cause more problems than you may think. With many kids carrying multiple school books, school equipment and personal items around all day long, the weight of the bag can soon add up. When a heavy bag is placed incorrectly on a child’s shoulders, it can pull them backwards, meaning they have to bend forward at their hips or arch their back. Over time this can cause the spine to move into an unnatural position, causing neck, back and shoulder pain. Improper backpack use can also lead to bad posture or put kids at risk of being unbalanced when walking around school, which could be dangerous, especially when walking up and down stairs.
How to find the right backpack
Here are five things to look out for when finding the right backpack for your child.
- Wide and padded shoulder straps- Narrow straps will dig into your child’s shoulders- we always advise looking out for wide straps that have padding on so they will be more comfortable.
- Padding on the back- Again this will provide comfort for your child and support their back. It also means any stray sharp objects or pencils won’t push through the material.
- A waist clip/belt- Waist clips are designed to distribute the weight evenly across the body. This will take the strain off certain areas and make the rucksack much easier to carry.
- Lightweight- Opt for a bag that doesn’t add too much weight onto the overall load. We recommend canvas materials over leather.
- Lots of compartments- Having lots of compartments can also help distribute the weight across the backpack, rather than everything being crammed into one section.
Using backpacks correctly
As well as choosing the right backpack, it’s also important that they’re used correctly. Even though some of these tips may be obvious- your child may need a little reminder.
Use both shoulder straps- Advise your child to use both of the straps on their backpack at all times. Bags that are slung on one shoulder- can cause strain on certain muscles.
Tighten Straps- Your child’s backpack should sit close to the body, resting evenly in the middle of the back- not sagging down! To ensure it’s resting correctly you may need to tighten the straps.
Pack Light- Doctors have recently advised that kids carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in a rucksack, so encourage your child to pack light! Do this by asking them to plan out their bag the night before, only taking the books and equipment they need. Kids can also make use of their lockers throughout the day, taking out heavy text-books or P.E kits, until they need them.