6 Tips: The right pack for your back.

Is your Facebook wall filled with photos of kids returning to school this week? It is just crazy how fast this summer flew by! There are certain things we can do to help our children (and ourselves) create healthy backpack habits that will stand for a lifetime.

Pressure status among kids is something we know is real. When dealing with backpack debacles – how we send our kids off to school at the start of the day, usually isn’t how they end up coming home.

Here are a few things that you can have some influence over though.

1. Purchasing the right backpack is important; the most properly fitting ones are usually smaller than you would think. The main problem here is the sheer volume of stuff your child is required to carry to-and-from school. Separating some items out of the backpack may be useful, like carrying a lunch box in your hands.

2. It is easier to buy a proper backpack when you bring your items into the store at the same time. For example, I would bring my: laptop, lunch bag, textbook and agenda, to see how it all fits. That Hershel backpack may be popular, but may not fit everything.

3. See pictures below for an example on size. The base of the backpack should not extend below the belt (normal belt placement) and the top of the shoulder strap should not gap above the shoulder when the base of the backpack is in the proper position.

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  • No gap between strap and shoulder – bottom of bag at the belt level
  • Chest and hip strap helps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack
  • Heaviest and/or largest items should be closest to your back.
  • Smallest and/or lightest items can go furthest away from your back. If the backpack is filled with school supplies, you may want to carry the lunch bag separately to not overload it.

4. Reinforcing the proper carrying habits day in and day out helps; biomechanics are on your side. They’ll get used to it, and notice how much more comfortable it is.

5. You have some control in what goes into the pack to start each day. Buying a suitcase hanging scale will help you keep the proper bag-to-person ratio. The total weight should not be more than 20% of the student’s bodyweight!

6. Wide straps with chest and hip belts help distribute the weight of the backpack more evenly.

* Photos courtesy of my son Aaron. He’s modelling how to wear a backpack correctly (at least each morning when I’m around).

Bye for now,
Dr. Payne

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