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Lightening The Load: How To Choose The Right Backpack For Back To School

Before you know it our kids will be back in school. That means they will be lugging a hefty load of books and supplies around with them all day. The National Safety Council suggests it is time to lighten their load with proper backpack tips.

It may seem hard to imagine, but the average weight of a fully packed backpack is between 12 and 20 pounds. Many are even heavier. If you look at your child’s posture when carrying an overstuffed bag it’s very likely they are struggling to maintain an upright position.

Backpacks that are too heavy can cause a lot of problems for kids, like back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as poor posture.

While it’s common these days to see children carrying as much as a quarter of their body weight, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends a backpack weigh no more than 5% to 10% of a child’s weight.

Since backpacks are a necessity, here are things you can do to help prevent injury. It begins with choosing wisely.

  • Start with an ergonomic backpack. One that’s the right size. A backpack should not be wider than your child’s torso or hang more than 4 inches below the waist.
  • Look for proper padding. A quality backpack at any price point should have padded shoulder straps so the heftiness of the bag won’t cause it to dig into shoulders. It should also be padded on the back to avoid poking into your child’s back.
  • Multiple compartments. Not only does this make it easier to sort and find things in  the backpack, but more importantly it positions weight more evenly.
  • Reflective material. While it’s not critical to the bag itself, having a reflective element is absolutely a safety priority. Many times kids are waiting at a bus stop or walking to school when it’s still dark. A reflective detail helps them be seen by drivers.

A final note is to pack smartly. The NSC says it’s easy to overstuff a large bag. For younger children, help them prioritize what must be included and what should be left at home.

Teach your child to load the backpack with the heaviest items first closest to the bottom and the center of the back of the backpack and to make use of the multiple compartments.

Then, encourage cleaning out the backpack periodically and removing or throwing away items as needed. A lesson in decluttering makes navigating the school day much easier on the back.

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