Childrens’ backpacks come in all sorts of trendy styles, shapes and sizes. The thing is though, so do our children… How do we know what is the best fit for our children when it comes to their school backpack?
In Hong Kong, our children are often leaving their homes each morning to school, not only with school books but lugging gear for various sports, tutoring groups and other recreational activities. Everything required for these long days is hauled about on their young, growing spines. There is copious research recommending that children should carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in their backpack. This can be difficult with a child’s full day-to-day schedules. They can reduce load during the school day by ensuring they are not carrying excessive books when they’re leaving for school in the morning and that they are utilising school lockers during the day. We know it can certainly be difficult for our children to only carry the “recommended” weight in their backpack. Below are our top 5 key tips for better backpack-wear!
Here are 5 Need To Know tips for your family on correct backpack wear.
1. Use two shoulder straps
Always wear a school pack with two shoulder straps. Avoid slinging your backpack with one strap over one shoulder. Try to avoid narrow straps. Wide straps will distribute weight more evenly.
2. Higher rather than lower
Adjust shoulder straps so the backpack is high on your back and the shoulder straps are comfortable on your shoulders. The pack should not extend past your waist.
3. Pack it right
Books, drink bottles, lunch for the day, sports gear… all these things can make for a heavy pack. Store heavier items in the large compartments close to your child’s back and the centre of the pack. This will put less stress on the shoulders and allow more even weight distribution. Most packs will have handy compartments to store specific items e.g. drink bottles and laptop sleeves.
4. The perfect fit
A child’s backpack is very different to an adult’s pack. Ensure the size is suitable. The top should sit 2-5cm below the top of the shoulder and the bottom should sit just on or above the top of the hip bones. If the backpack has a waist strap or chest strap use it. Waist straps help to distribute the weight load to the hips, relieving shoulder pressure. A chest strap helps keep the shoulder straps in place and reduces swaying of the pack, especially for while running and playing.
5. Comfort is Key
Especially for a heavy pack! As mentioned above, teach your children to re-adjust the straps when they are wearing different thicknesses of clothing so they are not too tight nor too loose. School bags should not swing side to side when we walk.
When it comes to wearing a backpack, the combined effects of heavy load, position of the load on the body, size and shape of the load, and time spent carrying, can be associated with different soft tissue, joint and postural issues. However, by implementing these five key tips we can significantly reduce the chance of strain/ injury to joints and soft tissue and improve our children’s posture.