Pain, Injury Should Not Be Part of Backpacks For School

It’s Fall and students everywhere are preparing to head back to school. Backpacks for school will be first on the school supply list for many kids. The choices of backpacks for school may seem overwhelming at times. Due to the astounding number of available backpacks and options on the market, it just makes sense to take a few moments and find out what backpacks are the best for your kids.

A properly fitted, well-designed, and durable backpack is going to be the best available choice for avoiding any discomfort, pain, or even possible long-term injury to your child. The experts at the American Physical Therapy Association have been studying backpack for years. Through their research, the APTA has discovered the main things that make a good backpack. Properly designed and well-padded shoulder straps, load stabilizing adjustable straps, a waist belt to place more weight on the hips and off of the shoulders/back, and several internal compartments to divide the load more evenly.

The Experts Say Backpacks May Be Too Heavy

Studies show that most kids are carrying way too much weight in their school backpacks. “Wearing backpacks improperly or ones that are too heavy put children at increased risk for musculoskeletal injuries”, said Mary Ann Wilmarth, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, assistant dean and director of transitional doctor of physical therapy degree program, Northeastern University. Wilmarth studied Pre-K through 9th grade students in the Andover, Massachusetts area over a period of time. Her research found that improperly wearing a backpack, or wearing an overloaded backpack had a long-term negative effect on children.

Other studies which were conducted in New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S. reached the same conclusions about backpack weight, improper use, and the negative effects on posture. There needs to be much more research done in order to determine the overall long-term effects on young kid’s back, neck, shoulder, and posture.

Correct Backpack Weight is Specific for Each Child

In the past, the American Chiropractic Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all come forward with backpack recommendations for students, teachers, and parents. All experts agree that backpacks worn improperly or that are simply too heavy may cause damage now and in the future. Some cheap backpacks may cause permanent physical damage to kids that will develop into much more serious problems in their adult years.

The medical professionals who see these type of backpack-related injuries on a regular basis have come up with some very simple guidelines. Typically, a backpack should weigh no more than 15% of a child’s total weight. In other words, if your child weighs 120 pounds, the total weight of their school backpack should be no more than 18 pounds. Kids should also be warned about the negative effects of carrying a backpack using only one strap, or in any other improper manner.

How to Get the Right Backpack for Your Child

Don’t go for the cheap backpacks typically found in large displays at your local discount retail store. Also, stay away from the celebrity bags that feature the latest motion picture theme or animated character. These backpacks are manufactured for only one reason and that is to get unknowing consumers to buy cheap stuff for way too much money.

Instead, look at some of the backpack manufacturers who have been around for a long time. Companies like L.L. Bean (R), North Face (R), and JanSport (R) have been making top-notch, quality backpacks for many years. These guys really know what they’re doing. Look for a simple backpack that has adjustable and padded shoulder straps, load stabilizing straps, and an adjustable waist strap. A good quality backpack can be found for less than $50.

Take some time to research the best backpacks for your child’s comfort and long-term health.