Choosing a packsack for the start of school isn't trivial! Your child must like it of course, but it must also maintain back health.
A choice that weighs in the balance
The start of the school year is just around the corner, and with it, the race to buy school supplies. The list of school supplies to buy is sometimes quite impressive, just as is the weight of the packsack used to carry them! It is important to carefully choose your child’s school bag, as he/she will be using it for the entire school year. Choose a packsack that is both ergonomic, reasonably priced, and strong.
Did you know that 60% of children carry a school bag that is too heavy in proportion with their body weight, and that many of them don't carry it properly? Here are some examples of common behaviours with the following consequences:
- carrying a packsack on one shoulder, which sometimes causes a postural deviation
- a packsack that is excessively heavy or has unadjusted straps, in either case, the child often compensates by bending forward, which can eventually cause tensions in the neck and shoulders.
Some selection criteria
To prevent avoidable injuries and to take care of their small developing spinal columns, here are some elements to consider when shopping for a school bag:
- Opt for a packsack instead of a bag with a single shoulder strap.
- Choose an appropriately-sized packsack; which should not go higher than the shoulders or lower than the hollow of the back.
- Pay attention to the quality of the material (fabric) used to make the bag. It must be resistant, but lightweight.
- Make sure that the shoulder straps and the back are padded.
- Opt for a school bag with several pockets or compartments. This will allow for a better weight distribution.
- For the same reason, make sure the packsack has straps at chest and hip level.
Some practical advice
For safe and optimal use of a packsack, here is some advice:
- Keep the bag’s weight under 10% of the child’s body weight (the best way to calculate this is to weigh the child without and then with his/her school bag).
- Ideally, your child should place the school bag on a surface at the appropriate height (a table, for instance) before putting it on his/her shoulders.
- Make sure your child carries only what is needed by doing a small “spot check” each day.
- Encourage your child not to keep the packsack on his/her back when it isn't necessary (for example, while waiting for the bus), so as to give the back a rest.
Aside from using the appropriate school bag, other simple strategies can help your child maintain a healthy spinal column, such as doing regular physical activities and maintaining a good posture.
Remember that the strength and capacity to carry weight is not determined by your child’s height and that the choice of a school bag is as important as how it is carried!
We wish you a happy and healthy start of the school year!