Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Backpack Awareness

"Pack it Light, Wear it Right!"

* Aching back and shoulders
* Tingling arms
* Weakened muscles
* Stooped posture

Does your child have these symptoms after wearing a heavy school backpack? Carrying too much weight can lead to pain and strain. How much weight is too much to carry?

A student should never carry more than 15% of his/her body weight. That means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn't wear a loaded backpack heavier than 15 pounds.

Strategies for parents and students:
Loading a backpack:
- Load the heaviest items closest to the back (the back of the pack).
- Arrange books and materials so they won't slide around in the backpack.
- On days the backpack is too loaded, your child can hand carry a book or other item.
- Empty out all unnecessary items...don't let it become a dumping ground!

Wearing a pack:
- Both shoulder straps should always be worn. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
- Select a pack with well padded straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
- Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child's back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain the muscles.
- The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child's waistline.

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