The biggest issue with finding a suitable bookbag is size. If a child is small, a large bookbag may be an invite to overload it which adds weight and subsequent stress to a child's back. Chiropractors are seeing an increase in childhood and adolescent back pain which many believe is contributed to by overly-heavy bookbags.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the weight of a child's bookbag at or less than 15% of their body weight. It may seem like one more thing to do in the midst of the school day rush, but it certainly will help to prevent unnecessary injuries. Once you feel the appropriate weight of your child's bag, you should be able to give it a quick lift to ensure it's at an appropriate weight.
Child's Weight: Appropriate Bookbag Weight:
40 lbs 6 lbs
50 lbs 7.5 lbs
60 lbs 9 lbs
80 lbs 12 lbs
In addition, it's important that the contents of the bookbag are evenly distributed. Frequent uneven weight on one side can throw a child off balance, force him/her to stand at an awkward angle which can cause pain in the neck, shoulders and back as well as poor posture. A quick conversation with your child about how to pack and carry their bookbag will help take some of the pressure off of you while acting as a healthy lesson for the child.
Last, but not least, make sure your child's bag is sitting evenly on both shoulders with enough slack in the straps for comfort, but snug enough so it doesn't hang below the lower back.
While going back to school is an exciting and sometimes stressful time for both children and parents, following these few simple tips can help eliminate long-lasting injuries during the school year. Happy shopping!