Does it seem like your children’s backpacks grow heavier each passing year? Have you found yourself checking their backpacks for a hidden pile of bricks, because that’s the only explanation why lifting the backpack gives you the same results in one lift as using shake weight for a month straight? If you answered yes to either of these questions, it’s time to reevaluate the safety of your kids’ backpacks.
The American Chiropractic Association recommends backpacks weigh no more than 5-10% of your children’s body weight. This recommendation comes after more and more children are complaining of symptoms of tingling, numbness, and pain in their arms, legs or backs after carrying around a backpack all day. While these concerns are catching the attention of lawmakers, many of whom are working on legislation to help lighten the load, today’s school kids still must find a way to carry heavy books, binders, and notebooks. Here are a few ways you can help lighten the load for your kiddos today.
- Buy only appropriately-sized backpacks. Backpacks should not be wider than the torso or hang more than 4 inches below the waist.
- Backpacks should have padded shoulder straps and a padded back to help distribute weight and to prevent books from digging into your child’s back.
- Look for backpacks with waist and chest straps which help distribute the weight of backpacks evenly. Compression straps also help stabilize backpack contents.
- If your children walk to and from school, make sure their backpacks have reflective material so they can be easily seen.
- Teach your children how to carry their backpacks correctly, including encouraging the use of both shoulder straps and any other straps designed to ease the load.
- Make sure the shoulder straps are tightened so the backpack is fitted properly to your child’s back.
- Teach your kiddos to pack the essentials and nothing else. Then teach them how to best use the compartments inside the backpack, like packing the heaviest items in the bottom center of the backpack.
Learn more about backpack safety for kids by visiting the National Safety Council’s website.