It can be a real pain in the neck if your child carries a backpack loaded with pounds and pounds of school supplies.
Between books, lunch, gym gear, etc., backpacks can get really heavy. Before long, carrying around a heavy backpack can lead to fatigue and back discomfort.
Doctors suggest students lighten up their load and not over pack.
Students should rely on lockers or maybe consider a backpack with built-in rollers. They can also balance the load by hand-carrying heavy items.
Shoulder straps should also be snug for improved backpack performance.
wilx.com: Extended Web Coverage
Some studies have shown that as many as 30 percent to 50 percent of 15- to 16-year-olds suffer from back pain, which may be caused by the improper use of backpacks. But there are steps you can take to help your child avoid back pain and other problems associated with improperly used backpacks.
- The safest backpacks have the following features:
- Two wide, padded straps that go over the shoulders.
- A padded waist or chest belt to distribute weight more evenly across the body.
- Multiple compartments to distribute the weight of the load.
- Width not greater than the child's torso.
- Bags that are slung over the shoulder or across the chest or only have one strap aren't as effective at distributing the weight as bags with two wide shoulder straps.
- Limiting the weight of the backpack is key to preventing injuries.
- The American Physical Therapy Association recommends that children carry backpacks of no more than 15 percent of their body weight.
What Should Your Child Do?
- Encourage the child to use his or her locker or desk frequently throughout the day instead of carrying the entire day's worth of books in their backpack.
- Make sure your child or teen isn't toting unnecessary items - laptops, CD players, and video games can add extra pounds to your child's pack.
- If your child does have to carry sports equipment or other weighty things, the heavier items should be placed closer to the back toward the body.
- Your child can also avoid injuries by picking up his backpack properly. The child should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting a backpack to his or her shoulders.
(Kids Health for Parents Web site)