Picking the Right Backpack for Your Kids/Grandkids

Today’s post was written by Concordia Physical Therapist Assistant Marcy Reott. At Concordia Outpatient Therapy, we have the expertise and resources to help get patients back to life – regardless of age.

It’s that time of year again when kids will be heading back to school before we know it. For many parents and grandparents, this means it’s time to go backpack shopping. But things are a little different than they were years ago, when the biggest decision was which cartoon character you wanted to grace the front or which color you preffered. Did you know that in 2013, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 3,000 children were treated for backpack-related injuries?

Making sure your kids or grandkids have the best fitting and functional backpack to help them through the school year is essential. While favorite characters and styles help define your child’s personality, it is important to find a backpack that also helps keep them healthy. According to The American Occupational Therapy Association and Parents.com, there is more to keep in mind than one might think.

Tips for Picking a Backpack

  • Foam backing should not come to the child’s neck or head; it should stay relative to their torso.
  • Find a bag with several different compartments, to help with weight distribution.
  • Look for enough room to easily fit a 2- or 3-inch three ring binder.
  • Check zippers and pocket for ease of use and malfunctions.
  • Check finished seams and edges for any fraying.
  • See if the bag has a hip belt, which can take some strain off the shoulders and neck.
  • Look for wide shoulder straps to promote weight distribution.
  • Always try to buy a bag with two well-padded straps, rather than one. If you must buy a one-strap messenger bag, be sure it is worn across the body to distribute weight.

Backpacks can come with a variety of features. Some features may seem more convenient than others, such as Velcro. However, Velcro tends to wear fast and will not have the longevity of a zipper. Other considerations can be wheels, if allowed by the school, to help with heavier loads. Reflectors are a good way to help your child be seen on those dark mornings while walking to school or waiting on the bus. Fabric choices can make a difference with wear and moisture. Nylon or polyester blends will be more water resistant and have more durability as compared to cotton blends.

Tips for Packing a Backpack

  • Do not overload, keep the weight of the backpack 10-20% of your child’s weight. Example: A 100 lb. child should carry no more than 10-20 lbs.
  • Utilize different compartments to promote weight distribution.
  • Pack smart by packing heavier objects closest to the body and lighter or sharp objects the farthest away.
  • Remind your child to make use of storage, such as lockers at school, to promote lighter loads.

Injuries can occur from a backpack being lifted wrong, worn improperly or being overloaded. Common things that may occur are lower back strains and neck strains, which can be painful and affect your child’s performance both academically and physically. Always bend and lift in the knees, adjust the backpack to rest snugly against the back, and be aware of warning signs that the bag is too heavy (difficulty lifting, pain, numbness or tingling, red strap marks, etc).

If your child/grandchild experiences an injury from an overloaded backpack (or you do while trying to move it off the kitchen table), refer to a physician or emergency room. Consult your family doctor for a prescription for Physical Therapy if muscle and joint injuries are persistant. Remember, we are able to treat all your therapy needs that result from any injuries with a script from your doctor. 

When it comes to outpatient physical therapy in Saxonburg, Butler, Freeport, Cabot or any of the surrounding areas, we have the expertise to get you back to life. For information on scheduling a visit to Concordia Outpatient Physical Therapy, call 724-352-4535.

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