Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back Pack Tips for Back to School

September 17th is National School Backpack Awareness Day

The kids are back in school and toting around those ever–present backpacks crammed with books, notebooks, electronics and lunch. But all too often a backpack can weigh 12–15 pounds, which can be too heavy for a child’s frame to carry.

A too–heavy backpack can lead to poor posture and back pain and injuries, such as:

  • Stress fractures
  • Inflammation of growth cartilage
  • Back and neck strain
  • Nerve damage in neck and shoulders
  • Low back pain

Look at it this way – carrying a 12–pound backpack to and from school and lifting it ten times a day for a school year puts a cumulative load on a child’s body of 21,600 pounds – the weight of 6 mid–sized cars!

Carrying a backpack that is too big or heavy also changes the way kids walk, putting them off balance. This increases the risk of falling, especially on stairs, and can cause foot and ankle injuries like torn ligaments and sprains.

Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website for information on this year’s National School Backpack Awareness Day on September 17th. You’ll find helpful information on injury risk factors and strategies for choosing and loading a backpack properly. Here are a few examples:

  • A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10% of his or her weight.
  • Choose a pack that ends above the waist and that has padded, adjustable straps; always wear both straps.
  • Carry only what is necessary.
  • Consider a backpack that has rolling wheels if permitted in your child’s school.

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