It’s that time of year again; Back to School. Kids dread it, parents love it but what we can all agree on is the importance of a reliable backpack to get you through the year. Nothing is worse than having your kid come home in shambles (picture Clark Griswold post Jelly of the Month Club bonus in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) due to frustration and pain from their brand new backpack. Well, good news; AKPT is here for you! Below we have outlined how to pick, load and wear the right backpack for your child.
What to pick?
- Padded, wider straps help to distribute the weight and decrease the risk of circulation issues.
- Padded back decreased the pressure placed on the spine.
- Straps across the waist and chest help to offload the weight of the backpack as do multiple compartments within the bag.
- Reflectors are a safe idea for nighttime wear.
- To properly size a backpack, you want to measure the distance between the shoulder line (where the backpack rests) and the waistline (belly button), this is the height of the backpack. You add 2 inches to this measurement. Then measure the distance between the shoulder blades’ outer edges and add 2 inches to get the width of the backpack. The backpack should never be wider than the trunk.
Having trouble measuring because your child around pretending to be an Avenger? No worries, we have you covered. Check out this estimation chart to the right.
How to load it?
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, the backpack should weigh no more than 15% of your body weight and more than 25 lbs total. The American Occupational Therapy Association says no more than 10% of your body weight. Regardless of the percentage, you get the idea, don’t overload the backpack. Below are some suggested weights based on bodyweight (following the 15% guideline), in case you don’t feel like doing the math.
60 lb child should not have more than 5lbs.
60-75 lb individual can carry 5-10 lbs.
100 lb individual can carry 15 lbs.
125 lb individual can carry 18 lbs.
150 lb individual can carry 20 lbs.
200 lb individual can carry 25 lbs.
How to wear it.
- Make sure to wear both straps so weight is evenly distributed (no one-shouldered look, this isn’t Saved by the Bell,kiddos).
- Tighten the straps so the pack rests on the child’s back and is not pulling their spine into a curved position.
- If you have a waist or chest straps, use them.
- The bottom of the backpack needs to rest in the curve of the child’s low back and no more than 4 inches below their waist (very unlike those low riding jeans from the 90s).
- Make sure to stand up tall and not to round your shoulders. If you have to round your shoulders and upper back to hold the backpack, it is too heavy.
Hope this was helpful in guiding you on how to select and wear a backpack. May the odds be ever in your favor this school year! – Caitlin Ratino, PT, DPT