The Path to the Heavy School Bag
As the age where kids carry heavy school bags gets younger parents are looking for solutions to reduce strain & damage from a heavy school bag. The BEST ways are outlined in the article below.
Learning has changed a lot since I was a student back in the day. I didn’t see a computer in school until I hit High School. Back then the computers (Apple IIe’s) were confined to one very secure room within the school and entry was only during designated class times, or supervised access during lunch hours for those that were super keen to use them.
Today it seems that every school requires students to own a laptop or tablet to be used in class and at home. Unfortunately for our children, this hasn’t necessarily meant a reduction in the amount of notebooks and textbooks that they are required to carry around with them before, during and after school. A heavy school bag is now the norm for most children.
Carrying HEavy School Bags: The Ideal School Bag Weight
Recommendations about what weight should be carried in a school bag in relation to the childs body weight vary depending on what organisation is providing advice. In general though it is widely recommend that a school bags weight should not be greater than 10% of the student’s body weight based on the fact that it can affect their spinal posture, foot shape, and gait.
Therefore, for a 126 pound (57kg) student, their school bag should weigh no more than 12.6 pound (5.7kg).
It would not take much to push a school bag past this point, especially with a laptop thrown in. The main concern behind these recommendations is that there are dangers that excessive loads pose to a child’s maturing spine.
The spine is a stack of bones called the vertebral column with the bones separated by a cartilage called the inter vertebral disk and held upright by the muscles and ligaments around it.
So here’s how to carry a heavy school bag without needing a trip to the physio or chiropractor.
Heavy School Bags: Reduce the Load
The best way to carry a heavy school bag is to not carry a heavy school bag. Reducing the load to be carried puts less stress on the carrier and minimises all sorts of problems such as undue stress on the muscles, ligaments and disk thus damaging them.
This also reduces the instances where alignment of the spinal column is also disturbed causing it to bend, mostly forward or sideways.
Use a Backpack
If your student is going to be lugging around any sort of weight in their bags then I would definitely recommend a backpack as the two strap design allows (when worn correctly) the weight to be distributed evenly across the back and shoulders.
I stress the ‘when worn correctly’ part as carrying the bag on one shoulder puts extra pressure on one side, tilting the spine, and leading to development of a bad posture.
Carrying a backpack also means that the weight is static on the back, as opposed to a bag that gets put down and picked up repeatedly which can put strain on the back and shoulders. Of course backpacks with wider, cushioned straps will put less strain atop your shoulders than thin straps.
So if you have a choice, seek out the large and plush.
Heavy School Bags: Distribute the Weight
When packing their backpacks, you (your little student) should aim for a nice even distribution of weight so that the load does not strain one side of the body more than the other. In conjunction with the point above, this will allow weight to be distributed evenly between the two backpack straps.
Heavier items should be placed on the bottom of the backpack, and towards the back.
- By placing the heavier items on the bottom of the backpack, their weight is shifted to your back instead of your shoulders and neck.
- By placing heavier items towards the back (the side where the straps are) their weight is against the carriers back, and therefore the centre of gravity is closer to the carriers back.
Some bags may also have sternum straps. Use them.
Sternum straps go across the chest to help distribute the load, and they make a difference. If your bag does not have one, there are websites that can show you how a sternum strap can be added to any backpack. Larger packs may have waist belts that help to shift weight to your hips.
De-Clutter and Organise A Heavy School Bag
Your students backpack is not a bottomless pit. Teach them to take the time to decide what they will need before they start the day so that you only carry the necessities. This is especially relevant when they are at the stage of having to carry multiple textbooks, musical instruments, etc to classes that they don’t necessarily attending that day.
If you’re a bit more organised you could even do this the night before. You will know what are the basic needs for their backpacks (lunch, etc).
Kids can be exceptional hoarders and often end up carrying heavy school bags as they lug around old homework, notes, stale sandwiches, clothing and any playground rock that happens to take their fancy stuffed in their backpacks and might need a helping hand to clean them out.
It may not seem like a lot compared to laptops and textbooks, it all adds up — and every little bit helps.
Dealing With Heavy School Bags – Buyers Tips:
When buying a school bag, opt for a backpack in the first place. Some design features that you should keep in mind because they help reduce the chance of back strain/pain from carrying heavy school bags are:
- Lightweight material (i.e. canvas or nylon)
- Two wide, padded, wide (2-inches), adjustable shoulder straps on the backpack.
- Padded back.
- Individual compartments, pockets, laptop sleeves
- Hip strap, waist belt, or frame to redistribute the weight of the backpack from the shoulders and back to the pelvis.
- Wheels so that the backpack can be pulled rather than carried.
- Consider using a separate bag for the child’s laptop or other heavier electronic items.
Carrying Heavy School Bags: Parent Tips
Watch the weight carried in the backpack to reduce back strain:
- If your child complains of discomfort, reduce the weight in the backpack immediately.
- Consider applying a guideline backpack weight limit as a percentage of their weight (10%).
- Teach your child to carry only those books and equipment needed in the backpack, leaving unnecessary items at home.
- Teach your child to clean out the backpack at least once a week.
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