It’s that time of year again. Students are stocking up on pens, pencils, binders, paper, books and other school supplies. With so much stuff, the weight adds up quickly. Many children will be lugging around all of that gear in one backpack, but carrying a heavy backpack to school every day can lead to injury.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a child shouldn’t carry a backpack that weighs more than 15 to 20 percent of their body weight, and I have seen other recommendations as low as 10 percent. My wife is going back to school this year to get an MBA. I weighed her backpack, and it weighed in at a hefty 20.4 pounds. She weighs … Let me rephrase that. I weigh about 180 pounds, so I could squeak by with a 20.4 pound backpack, but this would be pushing it for most children and for my wife.
You can avoid the weight issue all together if you purchase a backpack with wheels. If you go this route, make sure the handle is long enough so your child doesn’t need to stoop over to pull it along. If you go the traditional backpack route make sure you buy a backpack with good features.
A good backpack should have:
Two straps which should be wide and padded.
A chest strap and a waist strap both of which will help take extra stress off the shoulders and spine.
A padded back.
Multiple compartments to help organize and distribute weight evenly.
Make sure the backpack fits your child.
The top of the backpack should rest just below the shoulders, and the bottom of the backpack should rest around 4 inches below the belly button near the hips.
Pack only what you need for the day and remember the 15 to 20 percent guideline.
Pack flat objects in the back of the backpack and heavy objects at the bottom.
Try to distribute the weight evenly.
Most importantly, encourage your children to do well in school. A good education is invaluable.