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Is Your Child's Backpack Properly Secure?

young girl wearing a blue backpackBack to School Season is highly anticipated by many people! From parents to kids and teachers it’s a great way to get back into the swing of routines and learn a bunch of new things!

Along with back to school season comes the ever-important backpack! It is one of the most important items for any student to have, and a great way to express yourself! I remember when I was in elementary school, seeing all the different backpacks, from Pikachu, to Disney Princesses, Tonka Trucks and Superheroes, it was impossible NOT to admire them!

In University there were functional backpacks, designer backpacks, and creative sacks or even grocery bags used to transport textbooks, laptops and lunches. No matter what your age or occupation, backpacks are a popular way to carry the things you need.

Because backpacks are used daily and hold a variety of things, it’s extremely important to make sure you have a backpack that fits properly. I tried to use a Crossbody Single Shoulder bag to carry a very old laptop, three textbooks and multiple notebooks on my first week of university. It was a huge mistake that ended in an exhausted and sore shoulder. I bought a proper backpack the following week and never looked back.

Having an improperly fitted backpack can cause shoulder, neck, upper and lower back pain. It can negatively impact our posture and mood and make us grouchy if we are slouching and carrying something ineffectively. You might experience sore muscles or joints even after you’ve stopped wearing the backpack for a while. It is especially important that younger children have properly fitted backpacks to avoid chronic pain or posture issues in the future.

The good news is that all this unnecessary pain and discomfort is easy to avoid by choosing the right backpack for you and making sure that it fits!

When you’re choosing a backpack,
here are some of the things to look for:

Two teens wearing backpacks

  • Backpack length and width. Your backpack should be no longer or wider than your torso. There are specific backpacks made to fit smaller children and adults, as well as backpacks made for people who are taller or wider than the average.
  • Two Straps. It’s important to have two straps so the weight of your backpack can sit evenly without causing more stress to one shoulder than the other. The straps should be wide to prevent circulation being cut off from your arms, padded, and adjustable to whatever length you happen to need them at.
  • Additional hip or chest straps. These are great to have, as they can redistribute some of your pack weight to your hips to take pressure off your shoulders.
  • Multiple Compartments. The more compartments a backpack has, the easier it is to arrange things to find that perfect weight balance.
  • If you are female, look for female-specific backpacks. These are backpacks that have specially designed torso lengths, S-shaped shoulder straps (To make room for your chest without uncomfortable squishing,) and rounder hip straps to sit more comfortably on wider hips.

Once you’ve found a backpack that meets all these criteria (Plus whatever colors or styling you’re after,) it’s time to make sure your backpack fits you in all the right places to maximize efficiency and minimize pain or discomfort.

  • The backpack should sit an inch or two above your hips, and just below the prominent vertebrae in your neck. A backpack that sits too low can cause neck and shoulder strain, especially if it’s heavy.
  • The backpack should be snug to your back. It should not be allowed to swing from side to side. This can tire out muscles and cause chafing. A stable load is a happy load!

Some additional tips for avoiding backpack related discomfort or injuries:

  • For small children, it is recommended that they do not carry more than 10% of their body weight. That means the backpack shouldn’t exceed around 4-5 pounds for small children. This recommendation extends to adults as well!
  • Only carry what is necessary! I’m guilty of carrying way more than I need to, especially if I’m going to be away from home for long periods of time. Try to pack only the essentials or make a stop at your locker to drop off anything you don’t need to have with you all day.
  • Consider a rolling backpack! That’s right! A backpack on wheels is a great solution for someone who just can’t handle having that much pressure on their body. Just be sure you grab a pack that will fit within locker or cubby dimensions!

The average child is in school for 180 days every year for the next 12 years, and sometimes many more if they continue to secondary education. That’s 2160 days of carrying textbooks, clothing, lunches, and supplies to and from school! Even adults in the workforce might find a backpack a useful tool in daily life. It’s important to take care of our bodies, and a well made and well-fitting backpack is a great place to start!

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