Kidsmart – August 2017

Finding the right backpack is essential.

It is a valuable component of back-to-school shopping. Children may have their own ideas of what’s in style, but parents should look for backpacks that are functional before factoring in style. Marrying form and function together can be challenging, but it’s necessary to prevent students from developing back problems. But parents must give consideration to more than just the size of their children’s backpacks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries every year. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says that the weight of a backpack should not exceed 10 to 15 percent of a child’s body weight. But many students pack their bags with much more weight than that.

• Choose a streamlined model. Select
a backpack that will get the job done
without much added bulk. Many
backpacks have been designed to hold
technological devices as more and more
schools integrate technology into the
classroom. A less bulky bag might be
lighter and easy to carry.

• Consider shopping at a sporting goods
store. Employees at camping and
sporting goods retailers understand
how to fit backpacks for hikers and
outdoor adventurers. They can help
measure a student and find a pack that
will fit his or her body frame. Also, these
retailers may have a wider selection
of backpacks than some other stores,
increasing the chances of finding the
right fit.

• Select a pack with a waist strap.
According to the American Chiropractic
Association, the body is not designed
to carry items hanging from shoulders.
By using the waist strap in conjunction
with taut shoulder straps, students can
distribute the weight in their backpacks
over their hip bones instead of the
shoulders. The padded and adjustable
shoulder straps should be at least two
inches wide. All straps should be used
each time the pack is worn.

• Backpacks should be loaded properly.
Heavy items should be near the center
bottom to distribute the load, rather
than placed on top. Students should
only carry what is necessary, visiting
lockers or desks as needed to lighten
their packs.

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