Lugging around a backpack that doesn’t fit properly can be a real pain in the neck — and back — for children and teens.
Anthony Will, D.O., of the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University, and a practicing physician at the University’s Multispecialty Clinic in Glendale, offers these tips for choosing the best backpack:
1. Look for wide, padded, and adjustable shoulder straps. Narrow straps dig into shoulders and can cause pain. The straps should also be adjustable so that you can make the backpack rest on the strongest part of your child’s back.
2. Use two straps. Using only one strap can cause alignment problems in the spine. Remind your child or teen to use both straps — two straps are only effective if both are used.
3. Padded back. The padding on the part of the backpack that touches your chld’s back should provide protection from any oddly shaped objects inside.
4. Keep it light. Backpacks that are heavy when nothing is in them do nothing but add weight to the back.
5. Many compartments. Backpacks with lots of pockets help distribute the weight of the cargo.
Already have a safe and comfortable backpack? Here some additional tips from Dr. Will to prevent injury:
1. Use lockers, if the school provides them. The more time supplies spend in a locker, the less time the supplies are on the back.
2. Think ahead. Encourage your student to bring home one or two books every night throughout the week instead of putting off homework until the weekend — and then stuffing all books and notebooks into the backpack at the same time.
3. Speak up when it hurts. If your child does start to experience back or neck pain, make sure they are able to tell you. A child who is in pain may need to adjust the straps of the backpack — or replace it with a new one.