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Back To School Basics
By Drs. Neal Barry and Nicole Barry

Back Pack Safety Checklist: One of the fundamental pieces of any back to school ensemble is, of course, the backpack, and although they're practical, backpacks are a leading cause of back and shoulder pain for millions of children and adolescents. Here is some advice for parents on preventing unnecessary backpack pain and injuries.

"I don't have children" you say.read this list, it applies to you too:

  1. Is the backpack the correct size for your child? The backpack should never be wider or longer than your child's torso, and the pack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the stress on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.

  2. Does the backpack have two wide, padded shoulder straps? Non-padded straps are not only uncomfortable, but they can also place unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles, leading to long-term muscle imbalance.

  3. Does your child use both straps? Lugging a heavy backpack by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, low-back pain, and poor posture.

  4. Are the shoulder straps adjustable? The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. The backpack should be evenly centered in the middle of your child's back.

  5. Does the backpack have a padded back? A padded back not only provides increased comfort, but also protects your child from being poked by sharp edges on school supplies (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.

  6. Does the pack have several compartments? A backpack with individualized compartments helps position the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back, and place the heaviest items closet to the body.

  7. How heavy is the backpack? Children should never carry more than 10 percent of their body weight. For example, a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn't carry a backpack heavier than 10 pounds, and a 50-pound child shouldn't carry more than 5 pounds.

Finally, start a dialogue with your child about how they feel. Ask your child to report any pain or other problems resulting from carrying a backpack. If there is pain or if you can see imbalances (shoulder height, head tilt, head rotation, sway back), seek care from a doctor of chiropractic or other health care professional.

As we have become more dependent on our computers, and taking them to and from work, the carry-bags that we use are becoming heavier and heavier. These rules apply to adults as well. Alternate shoulders, monitor the weight, padding lessens pressure points on nerves, etc.

In This Issue
Back to School Basics
Children Need to Practice Good
Computer Ergonomics, Too

Recipe of the Month: Healthy School Snacks

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