Every day, parents hug and kiss their babies and send them off to school wearing their backpacks. Unknowingly, these loving parents, if uneducated about backpack safety, could be placing their child at an increased risk for neck and back pain.
Here are a few tips for safe backpack use:
- Wear both straps. Using both straps helps distribute the weight of the backpack more evenly and promotes a symmetrical posture.
- Ensure proper position of the backpack. The backpack should be worn evenly in the middle of the back. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the low back, but should not sag down toward the buttocks.
- Match the size of the backpack to the size of the child. The backpack should not be significantly larger or smaller than the child and the straps should comfortably on the shoulders and under the arms allowing them to move freely.
- If possible, lighten the load. The weight of the backpack should not exceed 10-15% of the child’s body weight. Only carry essential contents and teach your children to position the heaviest contents closest to their backs.
Other recommendations for safety and comfort include:
- Use the waist strap to help distribute the load to the pelvis
- Purchase backpacks with padded backs as well as padded and contoured shoulder straps
- Look for signs of unsafe backpack use such as pain, red marks on the shoulders, or numbness and tingling in the arms