How to Choose the Right Backpack

How To Choose The Right Backpack For Your Child 

September is here already and the kids are back to school and into their routines after summer holidays. One item on many kids’ back-to-school shopping lists is a backpack. Choosing the right backpack can be a challenge and it seems that the size of our kids backpacks are increasing with every new school year. When driving by an elementary school, you can easily spot children that are lugging around backpacks that seem to be, in some cases, half the child’s size!

 

What many parents may not know, is that bigger is not always better when it comes to backpacks. Those with larger backpacks tend to fill them with more school supplies like notebooks,textbooks, etc, making it is easy to put too much load on your child’s back. In school-aged children, the spine is continuously developing and it is important not to overload the spine to allow for proper spinal development and prevent backpack-related pain. To help avoid this, it is very important that your child has a backpack that is an appropriate size for their body.

To help you with finding the perfect backpack for your child, we have highlighted some important tips on how to properly use a backpack and what to look for in a good backpack.

Quick Facts About Backpacks

  • More than 9,500 kids aged 5-18 were treated in U.S. hospitals and doctor’s offices for backpack-related injuries in 2012
  • >79 Million students in US carry school backpacks
  •  About 55% of students carry a backpack heavier than 10% of their body weight
  • One study found that in US students 11-15, 64% reported back pain related to heavy backpacks

Tips for Proper Backpack Fitting and Use

It is recommended that kids carry no more than 10% of their body weight in their backpacks: less is always better. For example, if your child weighs 100 lbs, they should carry no more than 10 lbs of weight in their backpacks. To give you a better idea of what 10 lbs feels like, a large watermelon weighs close to 10 lbs.

Backpacks with tight, narrow straps can dig into shoulders and interfere with circulation, which can cause tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands. As well, many kids are not using their backpacks properly. Make sure they use both straps to help distribute the weight evenly and that they tighten straps so the backpack fits close to body. The backpack should rest in middle of their back (not sag to buttocks) to help with weight distribution.

As well, you want to make sure the backpack is never wider or longer than the child’s torso and that it never hangs more than 4 inches below waist. Remind your child to place heavier items close to the centre of the backpack to help with even weight distribution.

Features of a Good Backpack:

  • Must be lightweight
  • Has two wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back
  • Comes equipped with a chest and waist belt
    • This will help distribute the weight more evenly
  • Has multiple compartments to distribute the load evenly

If you have any questions or concerns about the fitting and proper use of your child’s backpack or if your child is experiencing any pain as a result of wearing a backpack, book an appointment with a physiotherapist at one of our 3 convenient locations today! Click here for contact information for the location nearest you!