Aug 7, 2017

Dr. Gellner: Backpacks seem to be getting heavier and heavier for students these days. Why is it important for your child to lighten their load? That's today's topic on The Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering the Healthy Kid Zone with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: Believe it or not, almost 14,000 children are treated for backpack related injuries each year. Back specialists recommend that a backpack should be less than 10% to 15% of a child's body weight, but often it's more. Kids should use both arm straps to balance the backpack weight on both shoulders. But that's not cool and so the extra weight is being put on only one half of the child's body.

The back muscles don't like being unbalanced. They will strain, and this causes the low back pain that most kids complain about. Back muscles being unbalanced can also pull on the spine and affects one's posture. This is bad news in the teenage years when kids are going through their last big growth spurt and their spine is developing.

The good news is this is all easy to prevent. Make sure your child is fitted for a backpack properly. Sporting goods stores are actually where specialists recommend you get your backpacks for teens. They've outgrown the cool characters on the cheaper backpacks, and they need a good quality backpack that will last them through their school years.

The employees at sporting goods places can help you pick out a backpack that is the right size for your child and has the features you're looking for. Again, be sure your child is using both shoulder straps, not just one. And if at all possible, transport only what is necessary in their backpacks to and from school. Make sure they're standing up straight when walking. Yes, posture is important because it determines where the contents of the backpack hit your child's back.

Finally, if the backpack is heavy, make sure your student is only carrying it when needed. Otherwise, it's okay to take the backpack off and set it on the ground if they're going to be standing in place for a while. Back pain is never fun. And if your child is complaining about back pain, be sure to have them be seen by their pediatrician to make sure it's only muscle pain and not anything more serious.

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