It’s common for kids to lug around backpacks appearing to be twice their body weight. Though it may seem cool to sling a heavy load over one shoulder – long-term head, neck and shoulder pain is not. Here are some helpful tips that will help your child carry their backpack with ease.
Backpacks can affect your child’s health
Carrying a heavy load can lead to poor posture and a distorted spinal column. Over time this can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage.
A heavy backpack carried on one shoulder forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the mid and lower back.
Choose the right backpack
- Select a lightweight backpack in vinyl or canvas.
- Try the backpack for fit and comfort – ensure it’s not too snug around the shoulders and armpits, and that it’s proportionate to the wearer’s body type.
Here are some items to look for when considering a new backpack:
|A waist strap
This distributes the weight of the bag more evenly
|Wide, padded shoulder straps
Too much weight on the shoulders and neck can impair circulation
|A padded back
This protects from oddly shaped objects in the bag
Like a waist strap, compartments distribute weight more evenly
Packing it properly
- Your child’s backpack should only contain what is needed for that day.
- A full backpack should be no more than 10 to 15 per cent of the wearer’s body weight.
- Place the heaviest objects close to the body and light or odd-shaped objects away from the back.
Putting the backpack on
- Place the backpack on a flat surface and slip on the backpack one shoulder at a time, adjust the straps to fit comfortably.
- When lifting the backpack use both arms and legs, and bend at the knees – give young children a hand.
Wearing a backpack
- Backpacks should never be worn over only one shoulder – this can result in neck, shoulder and back pain.
- Both shoulder straps should be used and adjusted so the backpack sits flush against the back.
- Test the fit of the backpack by sliding your hand between the backpack and your child’s back – if you can’t slide your hand in, the backpack is too snug.