A backpack is a convenient way for school kids to bring books and other equipment to school. There are many ergonomically sound backpacks to chose among that will help distribute the weight in a healthy way. A slingback carried on one side of the body is less suitable than a backpack, since it causes an uneven weight distribution, and the same goes for handbags.

Backpacks intended for school children often have padded shoulder-straps and backs to make them more comfortable. Some have reinforcements to keep them from breaking when carrying a large number of heavy books.

Reflective panels are found on many school backpacks, since they make it easier to spot the bag, and thus also the wearer, in low-light conditions where the risk of traffic incidents is increased. If the backpack doesn’t come with reflective panels, you can buy individual ones and add them yourself. Many styles and colors are available.

When choosing a backpack, it is important to take the current size and build of the child into account. Getting a huge backpack for a small child thinking they will “grow into it” is not ideal, since an overly big backpack can be difficult to wear correctly. This, in turn, can cause various problems, especially if the child has to carry fairly heavy loads.

A few questions

backpacksBefore getting a backpack, it is a good idea to answer the following questions:

Rigid frame

A backpack with a rigid frame is usually not recommended for everyday school use. Rigid frame backpacks are typically used for carrying heavy loads long-distance, e.g. during camping trips on foot in the wild.

Padded belts

A padded belt can offload up to 90% of the weight into the hips, leaving the shoulder straps mainly for stabilization purposes. This is desirable when carrying heavy loads, since the hips are stronger than the shoulders, and the load will ride closer to the wearer’s own center of mass. Also, the backpack can not move around as freely when it is secured with a belt.

Padded belts, also known as waist straps or hip straps, are common on large backpacks intended for heavy loads. Most backpacks intended for everyday school use does not come with such straps.

Backpack palsy

Backpack palsy (BPP) is a type of brachial plexus injury associated with carrying a heavy backpack. The injury is believed to be caused by excessive compression of the shoulder areas by the shoulder straps. Distributing the weight differently by using a padded waist or hip belt is, therefore, the recommended method for preventing backpack palsy when a heavy load needs to be carried.

Backpack palsy typically manifests as weakness or partial loss of voluntary movement at the shoulder girdle and/or elbow flexors after carrying a heavy load with shoulder-straps. Numbness or “pins and needles” can also occur. Backpack palsy is usually painless, and pain can be a sign that some other injury has occurred.