Overloaded Backpacks Often Cause Aches and Pains
Overloaded backpacks cause stress on the spine and shoulders, resulting in muscle fatigue and strain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). In fact, the excessive weight in backpacks may cause a child to develop poor posture or slouch excessively.
The AAOS recommends that the maximum weight of the child’s backpack not exceed 15-20 percent of the child’s weight. A child who weighs 80 pounds should not carry more than 12-16 pounds in a backpack. This figure may vary depending on the child’s strength and fitness level.
Tips to Prevent Back Pains and Injuries
- Use a backpack with wide, padded straps and a padded back.
- Use a hip strap when backpacks are overloaded.
- Firmly tighten both straps to hold the backpack 2 inches above the waist.
- Place heavier items close to the back.
- Use proper lifting techniques: bend at the knees and use the legs to lift the backpack, placing one shoulder strap on at a time.
- Make frequent stops at the locker to unload books.
- Use a backpack with wheels.
Recognizing Overloaded Backpacks
Watch for the following warning signs that a backpack is too heavy:
- Change in posture when wearing the backpack
- Pain while wearing the backpack
- Struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack
- Red marks on the shoulders
- Tingling or numbness in arms or legs
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