Wednesday Sep 16 2009
How much is too much for a child's backback?
Health wise column
Often crammed with everything from lunches to laptops, overloaded backpacks can give kids stiff necks, sore shoulders and aching backs. But parents can help prevent these problems by teaching their children a few simple rules as class is back in session. Many students are carrying a quarter of their body weight over their shoulders for a large portion of the day. As a general rule, to prevent injury, your child’s full backpack should weigh no more than 15 percent of his body weight.” How your child wears his backpack is often as important as its overall weight. Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms as well as low-back pain. While some experts disagree on whether heavy backpacks are the source of back pain in children, most agree that using good judgment when wearing one will reduce the potential risk of backpack-related injuries. Five Tips to Lighten the load Padded straps Buy a backpack with wide, padded straps to minimize pressure on the shoulders and collarbone. Compartments A backpack with individualized compartments helps position the contents most effectively. Make sure pointy or bulky objects are packed away from your child’s back and place the heaviest items closest to the body. Avoid leather bags. While fashionable, they’re heavier than nylon. Use both shoulders Carry the pack on both shoulders to spread the weight; tighten straps so the bag lies about two inches above the waist. Second copy Consider borrowing or requesting a second copy of heavier textbooks to keep at school instead of carrying them back and forth. If this isn’t possible, make sure your child bends his knees to lift the pack or consider using a pack with wheels. Health Wise is provided courtesy of Sutter Health