With the reopening of Schools, the backpacks are back. Students are going back to school again with heavier school bags.
If backpacks are heavy and not worn correctly, they can strain the shoulders and the back. It can also affect the gait of the children. Carrying heavy loads for long durations in poor postures can impact the musculoskeletal system. It can lead to muscular imbalances, increased spinal loading, changes in the spine curvature in the long run, and many more. So, properly wearing an ideal backpack is crucial. A right backpack can manage many biomechanical impacts on the body.
Tips for choosing an ideal backpack are–
- Ideal Backpack Dimensions– Length should not be more than the person’s sitting height- while sitting erect, it is the distance between the base of the torso to the shoulder level. In simpler terms, the backpack should sit between the shoulders and hips. Breadth should be of shoulder width, and thickness should match the thickness of the thigh.
- The weight of the backpack should be 10-15% of the total weight of the kid, not more than that. With an increase in every pound of weight, there is an increase in a forward head posture to compensate. This consistent pattern of altered posture leads to neck, shoulder, and back pain with a feeling of tiredness. The greater the duration of carrying heavy loads, the more significant the impact.
- Choose a backpack that itself is lightweight. The backside of the school bag should have pads to make it comfortable to carry.
- The backpack should have multiple pockets to arrange the books, school supplies, and personal items. It helps to distribute the weight evenly.
- While packing the backpack, ensure that you pack the heaviest items in the main compartment closer to the body and balance the material distribution.
- The shoulder straps of the backpack should be broad and padded for easy carrying. Narrow straps dig into the shoulders. Use both the shoulder straps to ensure even weight distribution.
- Avoid carrying backpacks on one shoulder only. It leads to leaning on one side, undue stress and strain on muscles, and ultimately bad posture.
- Additionally, if the backpack has a chest belt, that is a bonus. Even a waist belt can also help in better balance and support.
- Reduce the weight of the backpack by removing unnecessary items. If it is still heavy, switch to a trolley bag. Trolley bags or rolling bags are difficult to pull and roll on stairs.
Any signs like the child feeling tired after carrying the backpack, complaining of discomfort or pain in the shoulders or neck, or a tingling sensation in the neck and arms signify that the backpack size and posture need assessment and evaluation.
International School Backpack Awareness day is observed by American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) every year on the third Wednesday of September. In 2021, it was on the 21st of October. It is to create awareness among kids, parents, and teachers about the ideal backpack, and the ill effects of carrying the wrong backpack and using the correct posture.
Schools and Educators must constantly guide kids with the ideal backpack and postural recommendations.
The harmful effects of heavy school bags on the kids can be prevented by using the recommendations for the ideal backpack.
STAY INFORMED! STAY HEALTHY!