Just because kids will be starting a full course load in a few weeks, it doesn't mean they should be carrying it all in their backpacks.
As back-to-school season approaches, some experts say slowing down on filling those knapsacks and buying a bag that fits, will help your child avoid back problems. Eric Clifford, outreach coordinator of Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto says a proper backpack is all about organization.
"If you have pointy items like binders, keep these items away from your body. If something is jabbing into your child's back, you have to rearrange your items," he says.
Backpack-related injuries in kids and teens have increased 6.5 per cent since 2010, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Which is why the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the weight of your little one's backpack to be less than 10 to 15 per cent of your child’s body weight. In other words, if your kid weighs 70 pounds, his or her backpack shouldn't weigh more than 10 pounds.
Clifford agrees. "You have to distribute the weight. Put heavy stuff on the bottom or closer to the hips and use those pockets to balance weight. Most injuries are from strained backs or hurting muscles," he says.
He also suggests, as you would do with a good pair of shoes, trying on backpacks before purchasing them. "Tighten the straps and have your child walk around with a bag of binders or books, for example," he says.
How some heavy backpacks are slowing down Twitter users:
Here are Clifford's 8 tips that parents should keep in mind for backpack safety:
Use Both Straps:
To evenly distribute weight, make sure your child is using both straps on his or her backpack.
Ditch The Sling Backpack:
Yes, they may look cool but putting all of your weight on a sling backpack or one shoulder bag can result in back strain.
Keep An Eye Out For The Pointy Stuff:
Sharp tools like brand new pencils should be kept in cases to avoid any poking. If something is digging into your kid's bag (like a binder for example) flip it to the side or towards the front of the bag.
Test It Out:
Just like a shoe, a backpack needs testing as well. When you get to a supply store, fill the bag with books for example, to actually test out the weight.
Organize Your Bag:
Carry only what you need and keep heavier items on the bottom.
Lunch Bag? Use It:
Don't try to stuff your kid's backpack with everything they own. Save space (and weight) by using a separate lunch bag or gym bag.
For the first time, you don't have to share. Parents, keep you bags to yourself and make sure when you do buy a bag for your child, measure the length of their back to find a proper fitted bag.
Keep It Tight:
Use all needed straps and make sure they are tightened. Having a strap around the waist offers extra support.