It’s almost that time parents! Back-to-school is here! Finally, our refrigerators get to stay closed and our ears get a break from hearing, “Can I have a snack?” While you’re making sure you get all one million items on that school supply list, be sure to pay special attention to your child’s backpack. Backpacks can be a source of back problems for your child if you aren’t aware of these do’s and don’ts.
1. DON’T Get The Wrong Size.
Have you ever seen a kindergartner that is wearing a backpack so big, it looks like they could carry the weight of the world, literally? That’s because it’s the wrong size. Backpacks come in different sizes. If you are ordering a backpack online, often there is an option for a small or a large size. If you purchase it from a store, the backpack may not be clearly labeled if it’s a small, medium or large.
DO: You should measure your child from the base of their neck to the bottom of their low back. This will give an idea of how long the backpack should be. You should not purchase a backpack that is long enough to touch your child’s bottom.
2. DON’T Wear It One Shoulder
When I was in school, it was the trend to wear your backpack on one shoulder. I’m not sure if this is still the cool thing to do, but it can cause some issues with your child’s back. Wearing a backpack on one shoulder can cause muscle spasms which can lead to back pain and functional scoliosis (a curve in the spine caused by an imbalance in the muscles).
DO: Instead, your child should wear his or her backpack with both straps on their shoulders. The straps should be adjusted so that the bottom of the backpack lands right above the sacrum (area above the buttocks). This allows equal distribution of the weight of the backpack and helps prevent back issues for your child.
3. DON’T Throw It Over Your Shoulder
How many of you have seen your child pick up their backpack and just throw it over their shoulder like a continental soldier? Well, most of us have seen them do this and it can cause back injury especially if it’s done with a heavy backpack.
DO: To properly lift a backpack:
- Your child should stand in front of the backpack.
- Bend both knees to lower themselves towards the backpack
- Use both hands to lift the backpack by its straps.
- Put the backpack on, one strap at a time.
4. DON’T Overload Your Backpack
The weight of your child’s backpack should not exceed more than 10% of his or her weight. The backpack of a 120 lb child should not weigh more than 12 lbs. Carrying a backpack that is too heavy can cause your child to be faced with excruciating back pain, injury and cause spinal deformity.
DO: Your child should make put heavy books and school supplies in a locker or ask for permission to be left in a teacher’s classroom. If you know your child will be carrying large books, a backpack that has a waist strap and/or chest strap will provide extra support for your child's back.
Parents, now you’re ready to send them off into a prosperous school year that is free of injury from backpacks!