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Backpacks - What You Need to Know

It’s “that” time of year again! And while this school year may still be different from years past, nothing says a "fresh start" like a new backpack!

Did you know that choosing your child’s backpack may be one of the most important decisions you’ll make for the upcoming school year?

Why? The way a backpack is carried can have long term health effects including muscle strain, headaches, back, neck, arm pain, and may even cause nerve damage.

Below are a few tips for choosing, loading, lifting and wearing backpacks correctly.

Choosing the Right Backpack

  • The backpack should be proportionate to your child’s body. The top of the bag should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder, and the bottom should not fall below the hip bone.

  • Made of lightweight material (vinyl or canvas)

  • Have padded shoulder straps at least two inches wide that can be adjusted to your child’s body

  • Have a hip/waist strap that can help distribute up to 50-70% of the weight off of the shoulders.

Packing the Backpack

  • Backpacks shouldn’t exceed 15% of the child’s weight

  • Use the individual pockets to help distribute the weight evenly

  • Pack the heaviest items closest to the body

  • Pack odd-shaped items on the outside of the bag

Demonstrate and Advise Your Children on Lifting and Wearing Their Backpack

  • ALWAYS wear both shoulder straps

  • Adjust straps so the backpack fits snug

  • Use the waist straps

  • Squat or kneel to pick up the bag off of the floor

  • Lift with the knees to avoid excessive twisting or bending

When in doubt remember: Pack-it-light and wear-it-right!

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