Kids are going back to school, and it is important to know some of the best safety tips for supporting their back and posture when carrying a backpack. Below are some important tips to remember to protect your child’s posture and back as they carry heavy books around. Read below to find out more about the safety measures you can take.
What do I need to know about backpack safety?
Backpacks are a popular and practical way for children and teenagers to carry schoolbooks and supplies. When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to carry the necessities of the school day. They are designed to distribute the weight of the load among some of the body’s strongest muscles.
However, backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teenagers. Improperly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems. Share these guidelines to help your family use backpacks safely.
Choose the Right Backpack
Look for the following:
- Wide, padded shoulder straps — Narrow straps can dig into shoulders. This can cause pain and restrict circulation.
- Two shoulder straps — Backpacks with one shoulder strap that runs across the body cannot distribute weight evenly.
- Padded back — A padded back protects against sharp edges on objects inside the pack and increases comfort.
- Waist strap — A waist strap can distribute the weight of a heavy load more evenly.
- Lightweight backpack — The backpack itself should not add much weight to the load.
- Rolling backpack — This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried upstairs. They may be difficult to roll in snow.
To prevent injury when using a backpack, do the following:
- Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. Wearing a backpack on one shoulder may increase curvature of the spine.
- Tighten the straps so that the pack is close to the body. The straps should hold the pack two inches above the waist.
- Pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s total body weight.
- Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back.
- Stop often at school lockers, if possible. Do not carry all of the books needed for the day.
- Bend using both knees, when you bend down. Do not bend over at the waist when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack.
- Learn back-strengthening exercises to build up the muscles used to carry a backpack.