Sunday, August 15, 2010

Backpack Safety

Believe it or not the summer is coming to a close and children are returning to school in the next few weeks.  This is a great time of year when kids of all ages get to see their friends and begin a new chapter in their lives.  However, this new time can bring aches and pains to many children and adults.  Due to weak muscles and heavy backpacks, children often walk around with stooped posture.  This can lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain along with numbness and tingling in the arms and hands. 
When I was attending school regularly there were many “backpack fads” that came and went.  First, it was cool to wear your backpack over one shoulder; then it was only cool to “sag” your backpack and have it hang as low as it could.  Both activities can cause multiple musculoskeletal problems.
Follow these easy tips to help your child prevent pain and risk of injury:
-- Lighten the Load – A full backpack should not be more than 10-15% of one’s weight.  Make sure not to carry items that will not be used that day.  When placing heavy items in a backpack, organize them so that the heaviest items are closest to the body.
--Wear Both Shoulder Straps – If you only use one shoulder strap you place a large amount of the stress on one side of the body causing muscles to be overloaded.  It is important to wear both shoulder straps so that the weight is distributed evenly.  Although most children find it “un-cool” it is also a good idea to wear support straps across the chest or hips.
--Position the Backpack Correctly – The backpack should be over the middle of the back where the muscles are the strongest.  In this position the low back does not have to overwork to carry the load.
Good luck with your new beginnings and if you or your child have shoulder, neck, or back pain make sure to see your physical therapist at Hayashida and Associates Physical Therapy.


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