Choosing the right backpack

Published in Orthopedics, For the Health of It Author: Mitchell Kuhl,DO

Like it or not, back-to-school and school supply shopping season is here. When it comes to selecting the right backpack for your child, you may spend most of your attention on its color or which team or character it features. But be sure to pay special attention to its size, design and how it is used.

To and from the bus stop. From one classroom to another. To sports practices, music classes and around town. Your child will hopefully use his or her backpack each and every school day. When you consider everything your child carries around, the right bag makes a big difference. And the wrong bag can possibly lead to posture problems, muscle and joint injuries, or pain in one’s back, neck and shoulders.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following:

  • Choose a backpack that is the proper size for your child and look for one that is following features:
    • Padded back
    • Two wide, padded shoulder straps
    • Lightweight
  • If needed, tighten straps so that loads are carried closer to the back.
  • Pack your bag with the heaviest items low and toward the center of the backpack. Also consider what needs to be carried each day and leave out any unnecessary items that only add to the bag’s weight.
  • Also, encourage your child to make frequent trips to his or her locker throughout the school day — to drop off heavier items and limit the amount carried at any one time.

Be aware if your child notices numbness or discomfort in his or her arms or legs while using their backpack. This can be the sign of an improper fit or too much being carried.

Also, if your child or teenager complains of back pain, don’t ignore it. Visit your child’s provider or, if needed, visit urgent care or an emergency room.