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The 411: Youth

Is your child’s backpack too heavy?

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September 19, 2012 | 950 views | Post a comment

While backpacks are a convenient and sometimes stylish way to carry books for most young students, parents need to be aware of the risks they pose.

According to Connally Memorial Rehabilitation, wearing backpacks improperly or packs that are too heavy put children at increased risk for musculoskeletal injuries. “A student can incur injury when he or she tries to adapt to a heavy load and uses bad postures such as arching the back, bending forward, twisting, or leaning,” explained Sue Rabidou, administrator with Warm Springs/CMMC Rehabilitation. “These varied postures can result in improper spinal alignment and this can inhibit shock absorption of the disks in the spine.”

Rabidou and CMMC Rehabilitation recommend some tips for your child as they head off to school this fall:

Wear both straps. Using only one strap causes one side of the body to bear the majority of the weight of the backpack. When wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the pack is distributed evenly and better posture is promoted.

Put on and remove backpacks carefully. Do not twist to remove backpack and keep trunk stable. Wear the backpack over the strongest back muscles. Backpacks should rest evenly in the middle of the back near the children’s center of gravity. Do not let the pack extend below the low back.

Lighten the load. Although students are busy with classes and extracurricular activities and carry the associated materials, it is important to strive not to carry more than 10 to 15 percent of the child’s body weight.

Encourage physical activity. Students who are more active tend to have better muscle flexibility and strength, making it easier to carry a backpack.

This article is courtesy of Connally Memorial Medical Center. Reprinted with permission.

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