5 tips for buying a school bag
By Joanna Bounds |
Buying A School Bag - School Bags - Back To School

 Studies show that school bags can cause back pain and damage children's spines, causing muscle strain and rounding of the shoulders, particularly when worn incorrectly. According to a study undertaken by the Victorian Government's health department, around 70 per cent of schoolchildren may be damaging their spines by carrying schoolbags that are too heavy - and it's likely New Zealand has the same problem. Here are some essential tips to bear in mind when buying your child's school bag:

Buy the right size bag

According to a recent study, almost 80 per cent of school children say their bag feels too heavy. That's probably because most of us buy an over-large bag to save money, hoping it will last longer. However, it's more important to look after your child's back by purchasing a bag that's appropriate for their size. Experts also recommend buying a backpack, rather than a bag that's carried, or slung over one shoulder, as the latter can cause back and shoulder problems. Remember that canvas rucksacks weigh less than leather bags and the best bags have a moulded frame, padded back, adjustable straps and should be relatively water-resistant.

Pack a school bag correctly

When getting ready for the new school term, try to find a bag with a few separate compartments to help with packing. That way you'll be able to position the heaviest items next to a child's back, slotting books and lunch boxes firmly into place, so items don't move around in transit. If they do, a badly-packed bag can shift your child's centre of gravity and potentially cause back strain. A drink bottle holder outside the bag is a good idea to save spillage and damp school books.

Don't overload a bag

A backpack should weigh less than ten per cent of your child's weight, so around 4kg for a 40kg child. Seeing as that only equates to a few books and a large lunchbox, many kids are carrying more weight than is healthy. Encourage your children to only carry essential items in their bag and to leave as much as they can in their locker or desk at school, trying to ensure they repack their bag each day.

Carrying and lifting tips

When your child lifts their backpack, try and make sure they lift it with a straight back, bending at the knees, and that the bottom of the bag sits above their waist rather than hanging low, sitting on the hips. If a child has to lean forward whilst wearing their bag, it's most likely fitted incorrectly. Also make sure your kids know that they could be damaging their back if they wear a backpack slung over one shoulder.

Look for the stamp of authority

If you're still unsure which backpack to buy for your child, look for a bag endorsed by a NZ professional organisation, such as the NZ Physiotherapy Association or the Chiropractors' Association of NZ.

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