When you send your child off to school for the first time there are a lot of things that go through your head. You are probably worried about whether or not your child will make friends easily or if they will like their teacher. You have probably talked with your child about how exciting school will be and have taken her to the store and allowed her to choose her very first backpack. What you are probably not thinking about is whether or not that cute backpack you just bought is going to be safe and comfortable for your child.
Most parents do not think twice about the safety of the backpacks that they buy for their kids. Kids typically care more about the pattern or characters that they have on their backpack more than whether or not it will be ergonomically correct. But with children’s visits to the chiropractor and physical therapists increasing all over the country, it is time to start thinking seriously about backpack safety.
Did you know that the typical weight that a student carries around with them can be anywhere between twenty and forty pounds? Day after day this weight causes a great deal of stress on a child’s spinal column and can affect the child’s growth and healthy development. It is time that parents learn about this growing epidemic and step up to do something about it. In many cases the backpack is not the cause of the problem. Children simply haven’t been shown or taught proper methods of packing, lifting and carrying their backpacks.
The following list provides parents with some of the most basic things that they should know about backpack safety. Hopefully after reading these points parents will be more prepared so that they can better influence their children to wear their backpacks in the healthiest way possible.
Backpacks themselves are rarely the problem. It is wearing them improperly that can cause pain in the neck and back.
•A maximum of 15% of your child’s body weight is what should be allowed to carry in their backpack. Just as an example, if your child weighs eighty pounds, they should carry twelve pounds or less in their backpack. If children are required to carry more weight than is safe encourage them to carry their extra books under their arms or to remove any unnecessary items from their backpack.
•Use both straps on your backpack in order to better distribute the weight of the backpack and to promote a well-aligned, symmetrical posture. Using only one strap or having a shoulder bag means that one side of the body has to bear most of the weight of the backpack.
•Straps on a backpack should be adjusted so that the backpack is snug up against the body with the backpack being in the center of the back. If your backpack has a waist buckle, this buckle should also be worn at all times.
•The heaviest items in the backpack should be positioned closest to the back.
•Remind your children to be careful when putting on and removing backpacks. They should keep the trunk of the body stable, lift with the legs and avoid twisting too much and throwing off their center of gravity.
•When your child gets to the age where they are given a locker to use, remind them that they should be making regular stops at their locker to store their books away between classes and when not in use.
Use your parental influence to encourage your children to buy the kind of backpack that will allow them to feel the most comfortable and to suffer from the fewest back, neck and shoulder problems.