Backpack Awareness

Posted by Lisa Josephsen

September is here again! An exciting month filled with hopeful anticipation of the upcoming school year. September is also an appropriate time to educate parents, teachers and administrators on the important topic of backpack awareness. Did you know that an improperly worn or overly weighted backpack can cause injury and pain that may linger even after your child removes their backpack? Here are some facts and tips that highlight BACKPACK AWARENESS!

Picking your backpack.

The most joint-friendly backpacks have wheels that the child can pull using a long handle, similar to a small piece of luggage. But if your child prefers a more traditional style, ensure that their backpack has both a waist and sternum strap, described in more detail below.

Pack it correctly!

When packing your child’s backpack, place heavier items closer to your child’s back and lighter items toward the front of the backpack. Utilize the various compartments to distribute the weights more proportionately.

Get out the scale!

Did you know that your child’s backpack should only be 10% of their body weight? That means if your little one is 60lbs, their backpack should only weigh, once filled, 6 lbs.! For teachers, make sure your students only have to bring home the books and folders that are necessary to complete their assignments. Avoid overly large textbooks, or have the child hand carry the textbook outside of the backpack.

Wear it correctly!

Ideally, the child should wear their backpack on both shoulders, straps adjusted equally so that the backpack rests comfortably on the back. The waist buckle should also be adjusted and fastened to ensure that the backpack remains snug against the child’s body. If there is a sternum strap, or chest strap, fasten it as well to provide additional support.

Signs your child’s backpack may be too heavy.

  • Difficulty with either putting on or taking off the backpack
  • Reported pain or numbness in the arms or hands
  • Red marks left on the skin after the backpack is removed
  • Change in your child’s or student’s posture while they are wearing the backpack

If your child has answered “yes” to any of the above questions or you have seen the signs of an overstuffed, over weighted backpack, take the necessary correcting measures in order to prevent possible injury or unnecessary pain. Follow these tips to help start the new school year off happy, healthy and pain free!

– Maryann Deutsch