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(Chester County Moms - August 8, 2012)
Amazingly, it is just around the corner - the kids are returning to school. (Go ahead ... do your happy dance!) You have the list of school supplies to buy, but have you given much thought to the backpack your child is wearing? Before you throw one in the shopping cart, here are some tips for the safe selection and use of backpacks.
By the numbers:
Do the math:
Test your knowledge. What is (12 x 10) 180 / 2,000?
(The average backpack weighs 12 pounds. Assuming that it is lifted 10 times per day equals 120 pounds. Multiply that by 180 days and that means the average student would lift 21,600 pounds in a school year. That is nearly 11 tons or the equivalent of 6 full-size cars.)
First, the bad news:
If too heavy or worn incorrectly, backpacks can injure muscles or joints and may cause neck, back, or shoulder pain.
Now the positives:
When worn correctly, backpacks distribute weight better and allow the back and abdominal muscles to support the weight. Backpacks should:
Backpacks with wheels can be useful, but they present their own set of challenges as they:
Although backpacks with two straps are preferred, if your child insists on using just one strap OR the bag only has a single strap then it should be slung diagonally to distribute the load better. Be sure to alternate the direction the pack is slung over the back to avoid overuse.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends selecting backpacks that:
Encourage your kids to use their backpacks wisely:
Parents and teachers should observe each child to look for adverse signs of risk such as:
By observing these simple steps, the use of backpacks during the school year will hopefully be a healthy one ... and not a pain in the neck.
Last Updated: 9/18/2012