In yesterday’s blog, as part of BackCare Awareness Week, we looked at the best type of backpacks for school children. Today, some simple and common sense tips on how to keep the schoolbag suitable for young shoulders.
The first thing to be aware of is the weight of the bag:
- Guidelines vary but the bag shouldn’t be any heavier than a fifth of your child’s body weight.
- Pack the heavier objects into the backpack first so they are carried lower and closest to the body.
- Fill compartments so that the load is evenly distributed throughout the backpack and items do not shift during movement.
- Keep a regular check on what’s in the bag. Is everything in it needed every day? Can anything be left in the locker? Empty it out and start afresh every week to stop the bag filling as term goes on. Or, even better, get them to do it!
- Watch them with the backpack on. If they’re obviously leaning forward, there is too much weight in the backpack.
And after that, carrying the bag:
- Make sure they always use both shoulder straps and wear the backpack on the back rather than slung over one shoulder.
- If there’s a waist strap, use that to spread the weight across the body rather than the shoulders bearing the brunt.
- Adjust the straps to fit the backpack closely but comfortably to your child’s body, holding the bottom of the backpack 2 inches above the waist and keeping the top just below the base of the skull. Don’t let the backpack sink past the hollow of the low back.
Let’s be realistic though, once they’re at school all the good advice about how to wear their bag will probably be out of the window. And that’s not a problem. Kids are robust and strong. There’s no fundamental problem with a bag being slung over one shoulder. The worst thing we can do is instill a belief in them that carrying things is ‘dangerous’; that they’re not strong enough to do it and ‘damage’ to their spines or postures will result. But there’s still no harm in imparting some good advice though even if it’s abandoned 5 minutes down the road! Some of it might stick eventually. The most important thing though is to have a decent, well-fitting backpack (see yesterday’s blog) and to keep the weight of it down.