With backpack awareness day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to refresh your memory about the dos and don’ts of proper backpack wear! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated more than 21,000 backpack-related injuries in 2003. A backpack that is too heavy or not worn properly can cause poor posture, decreased lung capacity and musculoskeletal injuries.
It is important to stay informed, recognize the signs of improper backpack use and help you child manage the load. Here’s how:
Avoid improper carrying techniques:
- Carrying a backpack that weighs more than 10% of your child’s body weight: If the backpack is too heavy it will cause your child to bend forward, which can eventually lead to poor posture and respiratory issues.
- Carrying the backpack on one shoulder: Unsymmetrical carrying causes a weight shift to one side which can lead to back pain, asymmetrical spinal aligment and muscle spasms.
- Keeping straps loose, causing the backpack to sway when your child walks: This can cause your child’s center of gravity to shift from side which may lead to loss of balance.
- Wearing the backpack to low: This can cause forward head posture which may eventually lead to cervical muscle tightness and/or weakness. Wearing a backpack too low can also cause your child’s center of gravity to shift posteriorly which can lead to loss of balance.
Signs that you child’s backpack is too heavy:
- Redness under the shoulder straps or neck region.
- A change in your child’s posture while wearing the backpack.
- Tingling, numbness or pain in the shoulder, neck and back regions.
- Your child struggles to put the backpack on or take it off.
Tips to help your child avoid injury:
- Check the content of your child’s backpack regularly and discuss the importance of only bringing home the necessary items.
- Never carry a backpack that weight more than 10% of your body weight. For example, if your child weighs 50lbs, the backpack cannot weigh more than 5lbs.
- Make sure your child wears both shoulder straps at all times. Wide and padded shoulder straps are helpful as well.
- Buy a backpack with a padded back. That will help lessen the pressure the backpack puts on your child’s back.
- Make sure your child wears the backpack high over the upper back and close to the body.
- If the backpack has a waistband, make sure your child uses it! A waistband helps transfer weight from the back and shoulder region to your child’s lower trunk.
Now that your child is wearing her backpack properly, read here for tips on how to help her keep it organized!