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Backpack Basics for your Child

This week I had to take my son to purchase a new backpack for school. There were so many choices between color, with characters, without characters, small, large, and with lunch box options. My main concern was the size of the backpack. I don't want my son slouching over or dragging his bag because it is too big or heavy for him. Not that he's carry much in preschool. So with a little research and help from the staff of my physical therapy department I'v come up with some backpack basics.


I know you have you seen a child leaning to the left or right to support a heavy backpack on the opposite shoulder? If the load is too heavy it might cause the child to arch their back as well. While it may seem a little far fetched, wearing a heavy backpack day-in and day-out over the course of months or years may increase the risk of spinal injury. Carrying heavy loads will cause your child to adopt compensatory and faulty postures. These compensatory postures cause undo strain on the neck, shoulder, and back soft tissues. Spine disks are compressed unevenly, more muscular energy is required which can lead to fatigue and possible soft tissue damage.


In 1999, more than 3,400 pupils between the age of 5 and 14 years went to emergency rooms for injuries related to backpacks according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.


So how do you avoid back pain by backpack? Below are some simple backpack safety rules:

1.Wear the backpack over the middle back, not high around the neck or low around the waist.

2.Wear both straps. Don’t let your child carry the weight of the backpack on one shoulder.

3.Minimize the contents in the backpack. The weight of the backpack should not exceed 10% of your child's body weight.

4.Keep the heavy objects closest to the body.


It is also important to recognize the backpack warning signs:

1.Your child has difficulty lifting the backpack.

2.Side bending, forward bent or arched spine postures to adapt to the weight of the backpack.

3.Pain when wearing the backpack

4.Tingling or numbness


Try to fit your son or daughter with the correct size bag and instruct them on how to properly wear the backpack. Oh! and to use the books inside helps too!


Stay Active, Stay Fit!

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