Backpacks come in all sizes, colors, fabrics, and shapes and help kids of all ages express their own personal sense of style. And when used properly, they’re incredibly handy. Many backpacks come with multiple compartments that help students stay organized while they tote their books and papers from home to school and back again. Compared with shoulder bags, messenger bags, or purses, backpacks are better because strong muscles — the back and kids school backpacks with wheels abdominal muscles — support the weight of the packs.
When worn correctly, the weight in a backpack is evenly distributed across the body, and shoulder and neck injuries are less common than if someone carried a briefcase or purse. As practical as backpacks are, though, they can strain muscles and joints and may cause back pain if they’re too heavy or are used incorrectly. Problems Backpacks Can Pose Many things can lead to back pain — like playing sports or exercising a lot, poor posture while sitting, and long periods of inactivity. But some kids have backaches because they’re lugging around their entire locker’s worth of books, school supplies, and personal items all day long.
But many carry a lot more than that. When a heavy backpack is incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the weight’s force can pull a child backward. To compensate, the child might bend forward at the hips or arch the back. This can make the spine compress unnaturally, leading to shoulder, neck, and back pain. Kids who wear their backpacks over just one shoulder — as many do, because they think it looks better or just feels easier — may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight. They might develop lower and upper back pain and strain their shoulders and neck. Improper backpack use can also lead to bad posture.
Girls and younger kids may be especially at risk for backpack-related injuries because they’re smaller and may carry loads that are heavier in proportion to their body weight. Also, backpacks with tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves. These types of straps can lead to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands. And bulky or heavy backpacks don’t just cause back injuries. Kids who carry large packs often aren’t aware of how much space the packs take up and can hit others with their packs when turning around or moving through tight spaces, such as the aisles of a school bus.
Students can be injured if they trip over large packs or a pack falls on them. Carrying a heavy pack changes the way kids walk and puts them at risk of falling, particularly on stairs or other places where a backpack puts a student off balance. Finding a Safe Pack Despite their potential problems, backpacks are great when used properly. Before you buy one, though, consider a backpack’s construction. No matter how well-designed the backpack, less weight is always better. Use and pick up the backpack properly. Make sure kids use both shoulder straps.
Bags that are slung over the shoulder or across the chest — or that only have one strap — aren’t as effective at distributing the weight as bags with two wide shoulder straps, and therefore may strain muscles. Also tighten the straps enough for the backpack to fit closely to the body. The pack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and not sag down to the buttocks. Encourage kids to use their locker or desk often throughout the day instead of carrying the entire day’s worth of books in the backpack. Make sure kids don’t tote unnecessary items — laptops, cellphones, and video games can add extra pounds to a pack. Encourage kids to bring home only the books needed for homework or studying each night.
A heavier pack on Fridays might mean that a child is delaying homework until the weekend, making for an unnecessarily heavy backpack. Picking up the backpack the right way can help kids avoid back injuries. As with any heavy weight, they should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting a backpack to the shoulders. Use all of the backpack’s compartments, putting heavier items, such as textbooks, closest to the center of the back.