Ah…the start of the school year. Freshly sharpened pencils, new folders, crisp packs of paper, and the promise of a great year. For certain, there will be a million things to attend to, but one of the most important is what’s lurking in those backpacks … heavy stuff! And, all that heavy stuff is bad for your little one’s back. So, in the spirit “School Backpack Awareness Day,” this September 16th, we’re here to offer up a few tips to keep your kids’ backs strong and strain-free. After all, who wants their kids to be limping to school with a bad back?!
Better backpacking can be broken into two general categories: packing, and fitting. Packing is about maximizing space and dealing with weight and shape concerns. Fitting is how to best wear a pack. Let’s get to the tips.
Keep your child’s pack to no more than 10% of their body weight – weigh the bag when it has its typical load to get a measurement. Then take out everything unnecessary. Place larger heavier items nearest to your child’s back in the bag as well. This’ll help distribute weight properly.
Some questions and ideas to consider:
- Does your child need every single book they carry to school each day?
- Do they need a full plastic/metal pencil case, or just a single pen/pencil? How about one of those combination pen/pencil implements?
- What sort of magic can you work with lunch items? Should you core and cut apples instead of including them whole? Use plastic baggies and paper instead of plastic and metal? Have them carry their lunch instead of packing it?
- How about leaving the house with an empty water bottle they can fill up at school?
In general, a backpack shouldn’t rest above the shoulders or below the hips. Also, for the most appropriate fit, your child should use the top chest strap, and belt strap. Sure, these may be dorky, but it might be worth experimenting with. Trends change all the time. Two decades ago people wouldn’t be caught dead wearing both straps to a backpack at school. Now everyone does. Someone started that change. Be that person. Your kids’ backs will thank you!
Backpack Safety Awareness Day is held annually on the third Wednesday of September, and was established by the American Occupational Therapy Association. For more great tips, videos and instructions for wearing packs safely, check out their site. Be safe out there!