It’s back to school time! While most kids are lamenting the return to class and parents are celebrating, families are also doing the big back to school shop. One of the bigger investments you’re likely to make for the school year is a backpack. Usually you wind up replacing them each year, either because they’ve fallen apart or because they’re not cool anymore.
Picking out the perfect backpack can be a challenge. You need the right size, that will last the whole school year and that the kids will like for the whole year. These 4 tips can help make that a little easier and keep their backpacks from hurting their backs, necks and shoulders, making the whole school year a little easier for everyone.
- Thick, padded shoulder straps
-Thicker straps help to distribute the weight of the backpack more evenly and over a wider area. This will help to prevent the straps from digging in, providing a more comfortable wear.
-We know this is hard, but you also should encourage the use of both straps at all times. Lots of kids like to wear just one strap (they think it’s cooler, little do they know how uncool backpain is). Over time this can cause asymmetries and imbalances in the shoulder, neck and trunk development of the child.
- Adjustable shoulder straps to keep backpack snug to upper body
-Adjustable straps allow the backpack to be fit to the child’s body. Ensure the backpack is worn tight to the upper body. The backpack should not hang too low below the waistline. When the weight of the contents are further from the body or hang low it can put excess demand on the muscles of the back, neck and shoulders. This is another thing kids seem to think is cool, but it can lead to pain down the road.
- Individualized compartments
-Separate compartments allow the contents of the backpack to be more evenly balanced within as opposed to backpacks with one large compartment. This will prevent shifting of contents in the bag which may throw the child off balance when walking or running.
- A padded back
-Makes for a more comfortable wear and will encourage the child to use both straps.
Reflective materials to make child visible in dark winter nights (or mornings)
Carry less! The contents of a backpack should not exceed 10-15% of the child’s bodyweight
The school year can be hard enough without having to worry about your child’s back pain. Picking the right backpack and keeping it light will keep your kids moving well. Save yourself time, money and stress in the long run by making a small time investment at the beginning of the year.
(And don’t forget, these tips are great for kids, but it can help you too with your commute to work!)