|Backpack Safety |
It is that time of year again, kids are going back to school and the homework will be piling up! Is your child and their backpack prepared for the heavy load they will be carrying to and from school every day? Did you know that wearing backpacks that are too heavy or wearing it improperly can put children at risk for spinal injuries?
Injuries can occur when a child, in trying to adapt to a heavy load, uses faulty postures such as arching the back, leaning to one side, or bending forward. These postural adaptations can cause improper spinal alignment, which hampers functioning of the disks that provide shock absorption in the spine. A backpack that weights too much can cause muscles and soft tissues to work harder, leading to strain and fatigue. This results in the neck, shoulders, and back being more susceptible to injury.
Experts recommend backpacks should be no more than 15 percent of your childs body weight. Some recommendations for safe backpack use include wearing both straps. Using one strap causes one side of the body to bear the weight of the backpack. By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed, and a well-aligned symmetrical posture is promoted. Other recommendations include wearing the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles and lightening the load. The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back. The only items that should be carried are those that your child will need for that day. Your child should place the heavier items closet to the back to reduce the forces that cause postural misalignment and overwork muscles.
Features to look for when buying a backpack include:
- a padded back,
- hip and chest belts,
- multiple compartments,
- compression straps, and
- reflective material
These features will allow the weight to be more evenly distributed.
Warning signs that your childs backpack may be too heavy include:
- posture when wearing the backpack,
- struggling when putting and taking off the backpack, or
- pain when wearing the backpack. Tingling, numbness, and/or red marks are more red flags to look for
By following these recommendations your child may be less prone to fatigue and injuries and be more apt to do their homework after getting from school.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE.© 2000 Heart of America Medical Center. All Rights Reserved.