We are close to starting a new academic year, and these next weeks are all about back-to-school preparations. The task of buying every school supply, uniform, backpack, lunch box, and everything our children and teens need for a successful year can become a nuisance, especially if we leave it for the last minute. Selecting a good backpack is a vital part of our back-to-school preparations, and this task can be difficult because there are so many options out there that it can be a crazy ordeal to help your child choose the correct one for their age. Sometimes we choose according to the cute designs, but we don't check if the backpack is suitable for your child's age and body constitution. We also forget about functionality and safety. With this in mind, here are some tips on how to choose the right backpack. These tips are from Dr. Raymund Woo, an Orthopedic Surgeon from Advent Health, and were obtained from an article for the Advent Health Orlando Blog:
Right Shape and Size
It is fun to pick a pack that suits your child's personality, from cartoon characters to colors to fun designs. It's even more important to choose the right size and shape for their bodies and space for what they need to carry. So, if you've got younger students, select a smaller backpack instead of one too large.
Don't Overload It
Many children participating in afterschool activities carry their backpacks from early morning until late evening. And if they're carrying sports equipment or a laptop, it just adds to that load. While backpacks are necessary, overweight and improperly fitted ones can cause joint and muscle strain, leading to neck, back, and shoulder pain. Children who routinely carry heavy backpacks also may experience circulation or nerve issues, as well as problems with posture.
Preventing and Treating Backpack Injuries
When children use an overly heavy backpack, they may arch their back or lean forward to compensate for the extra weight, which can cause stress on the spine and lead to various levels of discomfort. Tight or weighed-down backpack straps may pose a problem, and the pressure from the straps can compress the supraclavicular nerve over the top of the shoulder blade, causing pain. The most common issues are shoulder, back, and neck pain, says Woo. Most of these problems are due to overweight, undersized/oversized, poorly designed backpacks, or improper wearing, such as when they sling one strap over their shoulder.
Wear the Pack Correctly
Dr. Woo recommends backpacks with camping-pack-type features, such as thick padded shoulder straps, a chest strap, or a hip belt. The straps help spread the backpack's weight evenly on the shoulders and hips. Be sure to use both straps and not sling the pack over one shoulder.
Consider Specific Features or Alternative Bags
If this style isn't appealing, Woo suggests a messenger bag, a rolling backpack, or even using alternate sets of books for home and school to avoid weight-related stress or pain. Store the heaviest items, like laptops, books, and binders, on the bottom, closest to their back. If they take a water bottle to school, don't fill it until they get to school.
If you are still confused about what backpack you need to buy, Dr. Woo gives the following guidelines:
Always buy a pack that is the proper size for your child.
Make sure their backpack doesn't weigh more than 5 to 7 percent of their body weight.
Look for brands that offer lifetime guarantees and produce similar packs for backpacking and camping.
Remember these guidelines when you go out to buy your child's backpack, and keep in mind that it is not only about the aesthetic; there should be a balance between the design and the versatility and practicality of the gear. And most importantly, it must be the safest option for your child's well-being.