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Backpack Safety

Backpack Safety

FACTS
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 6,512 emergency room visits each year result from backpack related injuries.
60% of youths will experience at least one lower-back pain episode due to improper backpack use.
55% of students carry more than the recommended guidelines of 10 - 15% of their body weight.
Did you know?
12 pounds in your child's backpack
X 10 lifts per day
= 120 pounds per day
X 180 schools day per year
= 21,600 pounds lifted in one school year!


SAFETY GUIDELINES
Backpacks can cause painful back and neck problems and injuries that can lead to long-term medical problems. In fact, a recent Simmons College research study found that 55 percent of fifth through eighth-grade students surveyed are carrying loads that are too heavy. Safety guidelines for backpacks advise children not to carry anything on their back in excess of 15 percent of their total body weight.

For example a child weighing:
• 50 lbs should carry no more than 7.5 lbs
• 80 pounds should carry no more than 12 lbs
• 100 pounds should carry no more than 15 lbs
• 130 pounds should carry no more than 19.5 lbs
• 150 pounds should carry no more than 22.5 lbs


POSTURAL EXAMINATION
Follow these steps to check your child for proper posture:
Standing behind your child, have your child close his/her eyes.
Check the level of the head, ears, shoulders, and hips to insure:
If they are level and the spine is straight,
If one side is higher than the other and a spinal curve exists. A spinal curve can put pressure on the joints, discs, and nerves.
Check from the side to insure:
Ears are directly over the shoulder,
Shoulders are directly over the hips,
Hips are directly over the knees.
Check your child when wearing backpack. Posture should still be correct.
If you see any signs of postural imbalance or your child has been complaining of neck and back pain contact your doctor of chiropractic.


WHAT PROBLEMS CAN BACKPACKS CAUSE?
Narrow straps dig into your shoulders and interfere with your nervous and circulatory system causing tingling and weakness in your arms and hands.
Wearing a backpack on one shoulder can cause you to lean to the side to make up for the extra weight. This can develop:
Neck and shoulder pain,
Upper and lower back pain,
Misalignment of the spine,
Muscle fatigue.
Over-loaded backpacks can cause stress on the spine. By placing heavy weight on your shoulders, the weight's force may pull you backwards. To compensate, you bend forward at the hips or arch your back causing your spine to compress unnaturally.

BACKPACK SAFETY TIPS

Get the right type of pack
Make sure it has 2 wide, padded straps that go over your shoulders and multiple compartments to help distribute the weight more evenly. Try to avoid heavy fabrics. Bags made of canvas are much lighter than those made of leather.
Use the waist belt
Waist belts help to distribute the weight more evenly.
Pay attention when you pack
Put the heaviest books closest to your body to reduce strain on your shoulders and neck.
Use your desk or locker
Make frequent trips to drop off heavy textbooks and the nonessentials, instead of overloading your backpack.
Limit your backpack load
Your pack should weigh no more than 10 - 15% of your body weight.
Plan your homework
Spread your homework throughout the week so you do not have to carry all your books home on the weekend.
Pick your pack properly
With any heavy weight, bend your knees when lifting a backpack onto your shoulders.
Strengthen your core
Visit your chiropractor to prevent back injuries by strengthening the stabilizing muscles of your torso.

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