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BACKPACK SAFETY TIPS

On August 24, 2010
By Dr. Nekessa Remy | 0 Comments

Did you know that more than 50% of young people experience at least one episode of lower back pain by their teenage years?  Research indicates that these episodes, could be caused by improper use of backpacks. In fact a recent survey found that  89 percent of chiropractors surveyed responded that they have seen patients (ages 5-18) reporting back, neck or shoulder pain caused by heavy backpacks.

Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly or improperly distributed can result in poor posture; and even alter the spinal column leading to spinal dysfunction. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain and even nerve damage. For example, a heavy back pack carried on one shoulder, forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the mid and lower back, and may increase the likelihood of back problems later in life.

Here are tips to carrying a back pack comfortably and safely:

 Choosing the right back pack

  • In terms of material, leather should be AVOIDED. Although it may look great, it’s far too heavy. Lighter materials such as canvas and vinyl are better options. Pick a pack that has two wide, adjustable padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, padded back and plenty of pockets.
  •  Make sure the pack fits properly, is not too snug around the arms and under the armpits, and that its size is proportionate to your child’s body.

 

Packing properly

  • Make sure your children’s packs contain only what is needed for that day, and that the weight is distributed evenly. Have your child clean out their backpack on a weekly basis to get rid of unnecessary weight.
  • It’s a good idea to know roughly what each item weights. The total weight of the filled pack should be no more that 10 to 15 percent of the wearer’s own body weight. For example, a child who weighs 100 lbs. should not carry a backpack weighing more than 15 lbs.
  • Pack heaviest objects into the backpack first so they are carried lower and closest to the body and place the odd shaped objects on the outside, away from the body

 

Putting the back pack on properly

  • If kids are struggling  to get their backpack on or off, they may require assistance. It’s a good idea to help young children put on their back, at least the first few times.
  •  Put the back pack on a flat surface, at waist height. Slip on the pack, one shoulder at a time then adjust the straps to fit comfortably
  • When lifting, use the arms and legs and bend at the knees

 

Wearing the back pack the right way

  • If you have to lean forward to carry your pack, or if you have back pain, then the way you are using your backpack (either its overall weight or the method you use to carry it) may need to be adjusted. Both straps should be used, and adjusted so that the pack fits snugly to the body, without dangling to the side.
  •  You should be able to slide your hand between your child’s back and the backpack.
  • Waist straps can also be worn for added stability

 

For more information or for a complimentary consultation please contact Dr. Remy at 905-820-7746 or email us at drremy@thechiropracticoffice.ca.

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