Backpack Safety

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by Barbro Brost, D.C.

Kids love to go off to the first day of school, after the summer, with a brand-newbackpack. It is a fashion statement and ranks even higher than the cool newoutfit they are wearing! Thank goodness that iPads have decreased the amountof weight kids have to carry around, but backpacks still can cause problems toyoung, growing bodies if not packed and carried right.

The rule of thumb is that a child should not carry a backpack that weighs morethan 10% of their body weight. So, if you are in elementary school and weigh 60pounds, 6 pounds should be the maximum weight of your back pack. Bigger kidscan obviously handle heavier backpacks.

Pack the backpack so the heavier, larger items will be carried as close towards thechild’s back as possible and lighter objects further out. If a backpack is packedthis way it creates much less leverage on the spine.

Teach kids to pack the backpack before they go to bed for the next day so theyare not rushed in the morning. Also, make sure they take out anything that theydon’t need in the backpack anymore, to avoid a slow accumulation ofunnecessary weight.

And of course, backpacks should be carried on the back with both straps over theshoulders. As a chiropractor, I have seen many kids develop neck pain andheadaches from carrying all the weight of their books on one shoulder.

If you have a child that complains about back pain, neck pain or headaches checktheir backpack and how they carry it. You may also want to visit a local chiropractor to havetheir spine checked!

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