Backpacks have almost become a part of every student's uniform. They’re not only filled with schoolbooks but often clothes, pencils and papers, notebooks, lunches, phones, computers and an assortment of other items. All that stuff adds up in the amount of weight resting on your child’s back and shoulders.
When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to distribute excess weight evenly. However, backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teenagers. Improperly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.
The American Academy of Othopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has these backpack tips for helping your child avoid injuries and soreness from almost every day use.
Choosing the right backpack:
When choosing a backpack, look for one that is appropriate for the size of your child. In addition, look for some of the following features:
· Wide, padded shoulder straps
• Two shoulder straps
• Padded back
• Waist strap
• Lightweight backpack
• Rolling backpack
To prevent injury when using a backpack, do the following:
• Always use both shoulder straps when carrying the backpack. The correct use of both of the wide, well-padded shoulder straps will help distribute the weight of the backpack across the childï¿½s back.
• A cross-body bag can also be a good alternative for carrying books and supplies.
• Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the back.
• Organize the items: pack heavier things low and towards the center.
• Pack light, removing items if the backpack is too heavy. Carry only those items that are required for the day, and if possible, leave unnecessary books at home or school.
• Lift properly by bending at the knees when picking up a backpack.
Tips for Parents:
Parents also can help.
• Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about numbness, tingling, or discomfort in the arms or legs, which may indicate poor backpack fit or too much weight being carried.
• Watch your child put on or take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle. If the backpack seems too heavy for the child, have them remove some of the books and carry them in their arms to ease load on the back.
• Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager.
• Talk to the school about lightening the load. Team up with other parents to encourage changes.
• Encourage your child to stop at his or her locker when time permits throughout the day to drop off or exchange heavier books.
• If your child has back pain that does not improve, consider buying a second set of textbooks to keep at home.
Backpacks are great for carrying school bound objects – they help kids keep organized and help prevent assignments and school information from being lost. Because they can carry so much, it’s easy for them to become overloaded for your child’s size and muscle strength. Make sure your little one isn’t carrying too big a load and knows how to properly lift and strap on his or her backpack.
Story source: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00043