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Junior Sport: Tips and Advice (Backpacks and Children)

Backpacks come in many shapes, sizes, fabrics and designs. This can present a challenge to you as a parent trying to select the best one for your child. A backpack should be more than just a container for transporting books, or for making a fashion statement. Purchasing a backpack is a major undertaking, which, if not carefully approached, can result in pain and possible deformity for your child.

What are the features of a good backpack?    

  • Wide, padded straps distribute weight evenly and prevent pressure points. Avoid backpacks with a single strap.
  • An additional waist belt is a plus, as it helps to distribute the weight more evenly.
  • Adjustable shoulder straps to allow the backpack to fit snugly to your child’s body.
  • The smaller the better. This prevents the child from over-stuffing the backpack. It should not be wider than your child’s back and should not hang below the waist.
  • Made of lightweight nylon or canvas. Avoid heavy materials such as leather.
  • Multiple compartments can hold smaller items and help to distribute weight better.

Proper wearing:

  • The backpack should not be slung over one shoulder as this can cause the child to lean to one side.
  • It should be worn high on the back. A backpack that dangles can throw the spine out of alignment and cause poor posture and pain.
  • Do not overload the backpack with electronics, gym shoes etc. The ideal weight is less than 10% of the child’s bodyweight. More weight causes the child to lean forward.
  • Pack flat items so that they rest against the back. Keep pointy items away from the back.
  • Do not carry the backpack for longer than necessary.

Measuring for a backpack:

  • To find the height: Measure from the shoulder line to the waist line and add five centimetres for the maximum height of a backpack. The shoulder line is where the straps will actually rest on the body, about midway between the neck and shoulder joint. The waist line is at the belly button. The backpack should fit five centimetres below the shoulder and up to ten centimetres below the waist.
  • To find the width: Measure between the pointy parts of the shoulder blades. An extra few centimetres is permissable. If you need help choosing the right backpack for your child, please contact us at Southside Physiotherapy.

Please note: this information should serve as a guide only. When in doubt always seek advice from Southside Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre or your GP.

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