Many backpacks come with multiple compartments that help students stay organized while they tote their books and papers from home to school and back again. Compared with shoulder bags, messenger bags, or purses, backpacks are better because strong muscles — the back and the abdominal muscles — support the weight of the packs.
And bulky or heavy backpacks don’t just cause back injuries. Other safety issues to consider:
- Kids who carry large packs often aren’t aware of how much space the packs take up and can hit others with their packs when turning around or moving through tight spaces, such as the aisles of a school bus.
- Students can be injured if they trip over large packs or a pack falls on them.
- Carrying a heavy pack changes the way kids walk and puts them at risk of falling, particularly on stairs or other places where a backpack puts a student off balance.
Improper backpack use can also lead to bad posture. Girls and younger kids may be especially at risk for backpack-related injuries because they’re smaller and may carry loads that are heavier in proportion to their body weight.
Also, backpacks with tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves. These types of straps can lead to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.