Kids may think it’s “cool” to strap on their backpacks and head out to school. But if they don’t know exactly how to choose, load, lift and wear them, backpacks can become a pain in the back.
Carrying a heavy load incorrectly can result in poor posture. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage.
For example, 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, and may increase the likelihood of back problems later in life.
Here are a few pointers to help you help your school age children carry their load comfortably and safely:
- Forget leather! It looks great, but it’s far too heavy. Go for vinyl or canvas. Pick a pack that has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, padded back and plenty of pockets. Make sure the pack ts properly, is not too snug around the arms and under the armpits, and that its size is proportionate to the wearer’s body.
- Make sure your children’s packs contain only what is needed for that day, and that the weight is distributed evenly..The total weight of the lled pack should be no more than 10 to 15 per cent of the wearer’s own body weight. Pack heaviest objects close to the body, and place bumpy or odd-shaped ones on the outside, away from the back.
- Put the backpack on a flat surface, at waist height. Slip on the backpack, one shoulder at a time, then adjust the straps to fit comfortably. Remember when lifting a backpack, lift using the arms and legs and to bend at the knees.
- Both shoulder straps should be used, and adjusted so that the backpack ts snugly to the body, without dangling to the side. Backpacks should never be worn over just one shoulder. You should be able to slide your hand between the backpack and your child’s back. The waist strap should also be worn for added stability.
Remember to pack light and wear it right!