Back to school season is here, and it’s time to think about the age old, essential school (and fashion) accessory – the backpack. Using a backpack surely makes life simpler, but if you don’t carry it correctly, it could cause more harm than good. That’s why following these backpack “dos” and “don’ts” will help avoid injury, no matter what age (this one’s for you too, parents). Back pain is no joke, so read on, relay the message to your kids, and carry that backpack the best way possible!
Size matters — seriously!
Kids come in all sizes, and guess what? So do backpacks. Choosing one that’s an appropriate size for your child makes a world of difference. The bag shouldn’t be wider than the child’s back or be so long that it lays down past their hips. No matter the size, the backpack should be roomy enough to fit all the necessary books and supplies the kids need for the day. Don’t go too small, otherwise your child may wind up having to hold the overflow in their arms. And remember to save room for lunch and a thermos!
Adjust? A must!
Nearly every backpack comes with adjustable straps — finding the proper positioning can make all the difference. Be sure to move the straps up or down so that the backpack is snug to the body and centered in the upper-mid back. This is important so that the child doesn’t hunch over or arch backward. It keeps the bag from flopping around or slipping off their shoulders, too.
Kids may not think it’s cool to wear their backpack so formally, but slinging it over one shoulder or letting it hang low can cause the spine to shift to one side or another which can cause a muscle to pull and cramp. If your child complains of shoulder or back pain, stop by your local vybe urgent care for a checkup.
They may show hesitation to wearing their backpack formally, but they’ll get used to the tighter fit and realize that it’s much easier to walk around when the backpack is fitted “just right.” Show your little ones how to adjust the straps if they start to slip — the older kids ought to be able to figure it out on their own.
Only the essentials, really!
There’s no need to lug around everything. Kids may want to bring their worldly belongings everywhere, but toys and gadgets don’t need to go to school — just books, school supplies and lunch. Anything else adds weight and puts stress on the spine and may neccesitate a visit to urgent care.
Go the extra mile and leave unneeded books out of it: if they don’t need a particular textbook for the evening’s homework, they should store it in their desk or locker. There’s no reason to bring it all back and forth. Organization and planning are skills that last a lifetime, so start the kids early with this education.
You get what you pay for
Savvy shoppers may already know, but back to school sales offer great prices on decent backpacks. You don’t have to spend a ton to get a good backpack, just make sure the quality is there! Be sure to check the stitching, lining, pockets, and zippers, make sure the straps are sturdy and secure, and the shape is sufficient.
Hand-me-downs work fine as long as the backpack is still in good shape. But if you find something at the dollar store, it may not be worth the risk of a bag that breaks or is unsafe. If you can spend a bit more for a better bag, it could last a few years which can bring a sizable savings in the long run and save you from some pulled muscles and aches.
Kids aren’t the only backpackers
It’s not just kids who wear backpacks. Plenty of adults use them daily for work, as a gym bag, or just an overall carry-all. These same rules apply, from fit to function. If you carry another type of bag, still be mindful of how you carry it, what’s inside, and how you maintain your posture.
While backpack safety is important year-round, September 18th is National School Backpack Awareness Day. Take that time to reinforce what you and your children know about backpack safety to keep your back healthy.
If you’re experiencing back pain – be it from your backpack or due to another cause – stop by your local vybe urgent care for a checkup. We’ve got your back!