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Much to the children's dismay, summer is coming to a close and school is inching around the corner. While they might not want to think about school supplies, parents surely are. One of the most important school supplies is a backpack, but many parents might not realize that the wrong one could cause long-term back problems for their children.

The American Occupational Therapy Association specifically warns of low back pain that can last into adulthood, which is why it is so important to find a well-fitting backpack that will distribute weight evenly across your child's body. In addition, the AOTA recommends these other tips on purchasing the right backpack:

  • Choose a backpack with shoulder straps that are wide, padded and contoured. The shoulder strap anchor points should sit 1-2 inches below the tops of the child's shoulders.
  • Look for packbacks with an abdominal strap which can help to distribute weight.
  • The bottom of the backpack should rest no more than 4 inches below the waist line and should ideally fit in the curve of the spine.

Other things to look for in a good backpack include covered zippers to protect from water leaking in, safety features such as reflective fabric or reflectors, and making sure that the stiching and material quality are sturdy and not fraying or coming unstitched. Overall, even with the right backpack, your child should not be carrying more than 10% of their body weight in the bag. Instead, try to keep some supplies at home or school to lighten the load.

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