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Posted on 08-29-2017
Aching backs and shoulders? Tingling arms? Weakened muscles? Stooped posture? Do you or your child have these symptoms after wearing a heavy school backpack? Carrying too much weight in a pack or wearing it in the wrong way can lead to pain and strain. Parents can take steps to help children load and wear backpacks the correct way to avoid health problems.
Loading a Pack
A backpack should weigh no more than about 15% of his or her body weight. This means a student weighing 100 pounds should not wear a loaded backpack heavier than about 15 pounds.
Load heaviest items closest to the back (the back of the backpack).
Arrange books and materials so they do not slide around in the backpack.
Check what you or your child carries to school and brings home and make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, you can hand carry a book or other item outside of the backpack.
If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels.
Wearing a Pack
Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side which leads to curving of the spine and pain or discomfort.
Select a backpack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack fits snugly on the back. A backpack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the body backwards and strain muscles.
Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the backpack’s weight more evenly.
The bottom of the backpack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the waistline.
Backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right backpack in your age range that also has adequate room for necessary school items.
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