At this time of year, the market is flooded with apparel and school supplies featuring a child’s favourite TV character and is often splashed with attractive colours and designs. But parents need to look beyond the flashy-ness when it comes to backpack shopping and ensure that the bag their child will be using promotes health and minimizes risk of injury. After all, they will be using it for almost 200 days of the year!
Check out the hot backpack tips below before hitting the mall for back-to-school shopping:
- Straps should be padded, wide and adjustable. Two straps are recommended rather than wearing a cross-body sling pack, which wouldn’t distribute weight evenly. Researchers say wearing a backpack slung over one shoulder can lead to poor posture and pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. Even if you switch it back and forth between shoulders, you are walking off-balance. This puts a strain on all of the bones and muscles of your upper body, not to mention your hips and core.
- The portion of the pack that rests against your child’s back should also be padded so sharp objects, such as the edges of books, don’t poke into the back.
- Get a pack that has a waist strap, especially if the load is typically more than 10 percent of your child’s weight. This will help distribute the load and take the weight off of the shoulders.
- Did you know that one size does not “fit all” when it comes to backpacks? Adjust the straps so the pack sits 2” above the waist and the pack is held close to your child’s body. If you can’t adjust the straps to achieve this, the pack is too long and you need to look for a pack made for a shorter torso.
- The weight of a backpack should not exceed 10-15% of the student’s body weight. That means that it should probably weigh 4 to 15 pounds at most.
- Make sure to organize the items with the heaviest closest to the student’s back and lighter items towards the outside. This will minimize shifting/sway and ensure the weight is distributed evenly.
- You may have to help lighten your child’s backpack. Only have your child carry what is necessary (this is another great reason you can use to convince junior that his electronics and toys need to stay home). If you can’t lighten the load enough, consider a rolling backpack for your child.