(BPT) - Racks of colorful backpacks are hitting the shelves at retailers nationwide, reminding us it's time for students of all ages to start picking out their school supply packs for the coming year.
It's tempting to simply let your child pick out the model emblazoned with his favorite superhero, but ergonomics experts say parents should think twice about how that selection is likely to affect his musculoskeletal health. The wrong choice could mean an aching back for your child over the course of the school year; in fact, some 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries each year according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Fortunately, such issues can be easily prevented by strategizing backpack selection instead of just grabbing one from the store display. The following shopping tips are offered by the American Occupational Therapy Association and Karen Jacobs of Boston University's Department of Occupational Therapy.
1. Instead of succumbing to an impulse buy, seek out a specialty vendor like eBags.comthat offers a better selection of brands, styles, fabrics, features, colors and price points. Buying from such an expert allows you to conveniently compare features among hundreds of different models, and eBags is just as convenient as in-store shopping because of its 110-percent price match guarantee - and in many cases, even free shipping.
2. Choose a correctly sized pack, adjusting for a child's year-to-year growth. The height should extend from about two inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above.
3. For maximum protection, look for padded shoulder straps, a padded back, chest and hip straps and a reflector.
4. Backpacks offering a hip belt can improve balance and take strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles.
5. Once packed, a backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of a student's body weight. If the student needs to carry more weight, a wheeled bag should be strongly considered.
6. The choice of fabric can greatly impact a pack's durability, strength and washability. Nylon and polyester fabrics usually offer all of the above without adding additional weight.
7. Finally, it's important to find a backpack your child will be glad to bring to school. Fitting in can be crucial to children, and you're doing him a favor if you can find a model that fits both your criteria and his - whether those standards involve a superhero or not.
eBags.com offers a handy shopping filter tool to help you search for the best backpacks based on criteria you select, such as durability, organization, style, or most recommended. It also contains listings of top-rated models based on customer reviews, ranking and recommendations. These top customer picks can help you determine the backpack that's right for your child.