With school in full swing, homework, projects and other assignments are ramped up for kids of all ages. This means that your child’s backpack is probably packed at the max capacity on most, if not all, days. It’s important for parents and children to be aware of the potential dangers that heavy backpacks can pose to their health. Many kids carry backpacks that are way too heavy for their size, which increases the chances of injury. However, when a backpack is carried correctly, there is a smaller chance of neck, shoulder and back pain.
Here are a few easy guidelines for parents and kids to avoid injuries and discomfort:
- Choose a backpack that has wide, padded shoulder straps and a waist strap. The straps should be adjusted so that they fit snugly around the shoulders and hips with weight carried no lower than 2 to 4 inches below the waist.
- When filled, a backpack should not weigh more than 10 to 15 percent of your child’s body weight.
- Encourage your child to always carry the backpack on both shoulders rather than just one.
- There are other options for carrying books and assignments available for kids of all ages. The ideal choice would be a rolling backpack (available in all shapes, sizes and designs) as it will alleviate all the pain and injuries that are associated with carrying a traditional one.
- A cross body bag can also be another good option.
- Remove or organize items that are heavy low and towards the center.
- When lifting the backpack, bend at the knees and lift with both legs.
- Encourage your child to leave any books or other items at home or in their locker when possible.
- Encourage your child to tell you about numbness or tingling in the arms or legs as this may be an indication of a poor-fitting backpack or that too much weight is being carried.