We’ve come a long way as society to prevent unnecessary pain and injuries in children. We take greater care in their sports health. We ensure they’re not overdoing it in sports. And we do all we can to protect them during games. One thing we always forget to include when it comes to injury prevention is the everyday things a child does – like carrying a backpack to school. With better backpack options in the stores and schools taking greater care to avoid heaviness, you’d think backpack safety is a thing of the past.
However, despite weight and better-designed backpacks, parents need to still make sure their child is carrying their backpacks correctly. It will ensure that they avoid pain and injury, along with preventing future back, shoulder and neck problems. It’s especially important to start backpack safety at a young age so that when your children get to college – where heavy backpacks are still a problem – carrying backpacks correctly is second nature.
#1 Never Carry A Backpack On One Shoulder
One shoulder backpacks used to be all the rage. However, this particular type of backpack is still popular and is still being sold. It’s one of the worse backpacks to buy for your child or yourself as carrying a backpack on one shoulder – despite weight – can contribute to neck and shoulder problems. Even if your child has a two-shoulder backpack, they should be wearing both straps.
Using both straps ensures that the weight of the backpack is evenly distributed. Even weight distribution means that all muscles and supporting muscles are being used. Making sure that all muscles are being used means that the back, neck, and shoulders are properly supported to avoid strains.
#2 Check Backpack Positioning
Most people and kids just throw their backpack on without a second thought to fit and positioning. However, this is a recipe for disaster. If a backpack is positioned incorrectly, it can cause extra stress and strain on the neck and shoulders, causing pain. This is particularly important if the backpack is heavy. Backpacks should be positioned evenly on the mid-back muscles. If the shoulder straps are too long or too short, it’ll cause difficulty with not only putting the backpack on and taking it off. Ill-fitting straps can also make the backpack sit too low or too high, putting stress on the wrong muscles. The American Chiropractic Association suggests that the backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.
A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
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#3 Backpack Safety Also Means Putting It On Correctly
Backpack safety is not just about carrying the backpack. It’s also about putting it on and taking it off safely and correctly. When you pick up your backpack, you should be bending at the knees and not the waist to pick it up. Bending from the waist causes extra stress on the lower back, which leads to back pain and problems.
#4 Choose The Right Fitting Backpack
Believe it or not but not all backpacks are created equal. Some backpacks have wide, padded shoulder straps that are ideal for comfort and support. Narrow straps can cause pain and circulation problems as they dig into the shoulders. A waist strap is another feature of a good backpack as the waist strap provides extra support and allows for even distribution of weight.