Back to School with Backpack Safety

by TOI Admin August 12, 2013

With the new school year beginning, choosing the correct backpack for your child can be an important decision. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, backpacks are designed to distribute the weight of the load among some of the body’s strongest muscles, but when worn incorrectly, backpacks can cause serious problems for children and teenagers.

Choosing the Right Backpack
When choosing a backpack, look for one that is appropriate for the size of your child. In addition, look for some of the following features:

Wide, padded shoulder straps

Two shoulder straps

Padded back

Waist strap

Lightweight backpack

Rolling backpack

Injury Prevention
To prevent injury when using a backpack, do the following:

Always use both shoulder straps to keep the weight of the backpack better distributed across the child's back

Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the back

Pack light: Kids should carry no more than 15 to 20% of their body weight

Organize the items: pack heavier things low and towards the center

Remove items if the backpack is too heavy: carry only those items that are required for the day, and if possible, leave unnecessary books at home or school

Lift properly by bending at the knees when picking up a backpack

Build muscle strength

Tips for Parents
Parents also can help.

Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about numbness, tingling, or discomfort in the arms or legs which may indicate poor backpack fit or too much weight being carried.

Watch your child put on or take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle. If the backpack seems too heavy for the child, have them remove some of the books and carry them in their arms to ease load on the back.

Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager.

Talk to the school about lightening the load. Team up with other parents to encourage changes.

Be sure the school allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day to drop off or exchange heavier books.

If your child has back pain that does not improve, consider buying a second set of textbooks to keep at home.


For more information on backpack safety, please read the full article at:

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