Backpack Safety Tips.
Here are four guidelines for proper backpack use:
1. Choose Right — Choosing the correct sized backpack is an important first step to safe backpack use. The backpack should not be larger than three quarters of the length of a child’s back. The shoulder straps should be padded and a waist strap is ideal. Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized. Some manufacturers offer special child-sized versions for children ages 5-10. These packs weigh less than a pound and have shorter back lengths and widths so they do not slip around on the back. Consider more than looks when choosing a backpack. An ill-fitting pack can cause back pain, muscle strain, or nerve impingement. You want to have padded shoulder straps to avoid pressure on the nerves around the armpits. Some backpacks have waist straps designed to stabilize the load. These should be used whenever possible. Choose a backpack that has wide cushioned straps which will distribute the weight on shoulders evenly. In addition, a backpack with a waist strap helps stabilize the load by not allowing the pack to flop around.
2. Pack Right — The maximum weight of the loaded backpack should not exceed 15% of your child’s body weight, so only pack what is needed. Heavier books should be closer to the child. Regardless of the weight, if the backpack forces the wearer to bend forward to carry, it is overloaded. The proper maximum weight for a fully loaded backpack should not exceed 15% of the child’s body weight. For example, an 80-pound child should not carry more than 12 pounds in a pack. If the pack forces the carrier to bend forward, it is overloaded. It is important to balance the weight of the contents or the body shifts into unnatural postures to compensate. Pack the heaviest objects first so that they are carried lower and closer to the body.
When loading, it is obvious that excessive backpack weight can cause problems. Prioritizing the pack’s content is very important students should only be packing essential items and if needed, make frequent stops at a locker to exchange books. Avoid loading unnecessary items.
3. Lift Right — Often ignored is the act of lifting and positioning the pack. Lifting 20 pounds improperly can cause damage. Even adults can hurt themselves if they lift 20 pounds improperly. Imagine what a child could do to a growing spine lifting 20 pounds improperly. Proper lifting is important regardless of the size of what you’re lifting. Remember that repetitive stress injuries occur over the long term and the pain that arrives is the result of years of poor lifting habits. By helping kids lift their backpacks carefully and with these recommended steps, you can help your children prevent years of painful existence.
Here are the guidelines for lifting a backpack:
- Face the backpack before you lift it.
- Bend at the knees.
- Use both hands and check the weight of the pack.
- Lift with the legs, not your back.
4. Wear Right — put one shoulder strap on at a time. Use both shoulder straps. Never sling the pack onto one shoulder. Carrying the backpack on one shoulder, while fashionable, can cause long-term neck, shoulder, back, and postural problems. Make them snug but not too tight (the pack should not hang down past the waist). When the backpack has a waist strap, it should be used.
If you are interested in purchasing a Great Ergonomically Correct Back Pack for your children I personally recommend the Assoc. of NJ Chiropractors approved Core Product’s AirPacks System which you can purchase directly on-line Here.
I hope this series was both informative and helpful to empower you to help keep your child’s back healthy … the next series will focus on National Healthy Aging Month … so check back soon or simply keep yourself up to date with what is going on at Belvidere Chiropractic Center by subscribing to Belvidere Chiropractic’s RSS Feed or to our Email Updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIN.
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