Why the Right Backpack is Important
Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly or improperly distributed can result in poor posture; and even distort the spinal column, throwing it out of alignment. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage.
For example, a heavy backpack carried on one shoulder, forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the mid and lower back, and may increase the likelihood of back problems later in life.
How to Choose the Right Backpack
• Although leather backpacks may look great save a cow and go for a canvas or vinyl bag. Leather is far too heavy of a material.
• Pick a backpack that has two wide, adjustable, and padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap.
• Make sure the backpack has a padded back and plenty of pockets.
• Treat buying a backpack like buying a helmet. Make sure they are comfortable and are the right size for you! When trying a backpack on make sure that they are not to snug around the arms and under the armpits and that it is sized in proportion to the wearers’ body.
How to Properly Pack a Backpack
• Try to determine how much each item weights. Did you know that an average textbook weights 3.5lbs?
• A backpack should be no more than 10 to 15 percent of the wearer’s own body weight.
• Try to lessen the load by making sure your children’s packs contain only what is needed for that day. Though they may beg you to bring their rock collection for show and tell – there pack is heavy enough as is!
• Pack heaviest objects close to the body.
• Odd-shaped or bumpy items should be placed on the outside.
How to Properly Wear and Put on a Backpack
• If you can, help your children put on their backpacks (at least the first few times)
• It’s easiest if you put the backpack on a flat surface, at waist height. From there slip the backpack on one strap at a time.
• It’s important that the backpacks are adjusted to fit comfortably. Though one strapping it may look “cool” it’s important the straps are used as they were intended.
• There should be just enough room to slide your hand between your child’s backpack and back.
• The waist strap should also be worn for added stability.
• When lifting the backpack from the ground use your arms and legs and bend at the knees.
Spending a little extra money on a higher quality backpack can be the difference between pain-free and pain the back. Think of these tips next time you are buying a backpack for yourself or your child!