Safe Backpacks

August 22, 2011

Can you believe it’s almost time to send the kids back to school? With that in mind, we thought we would provide some helpful information on choosing a supportive backpack.

When selecting a backpack, look for these features:

  • The backpack itself is lightweight.
  • Wide, padded shoulder straps and an ergonomic design.
  • Multiple compartments.

The American Chiropractic Association recommends that a loaded backpack not exceed 10% of a child’s body weight, which is 5 lbs for a fifty pound child, or 10 pounds for a hundred pound teenager. Look for red marks on your child’s skin—they indicate that your child is carrying too much weight.

Worn improperly, backpacks may also cause back, neck, or shoulder pain.  They can also throw kids off balance and lead to falls. Encourage healthy habits by making sure your child wears both straps on the backpack! Discourage the use of only one strap slung over a single shoulder—which can lead to alignment problems and pain.

To ensure a proper fit, make sure the backpack isn’t sitting more than four inches below the child’s waist and that the straps are tightened so the backpack is close to the body.

Loading a backpack correctly matters as well. Looks for a backpack with multiple compartments to distribute supplies and weight evenly. Help your child determine what items are okay to leave behind at school at night and what can stay at home so that they aren’t carrying excessive weight.

Even better? Have your kids use a rolling bag!

-Amanda Giger and Dr. Carly Bridge


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