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The American Chiropractic Association and TMC Chiropractic in Williston offer the following tips to prevent the needless back pain an overstuffed backpack could cause the student in your household:
Make sure the backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight. This means a 100-pound child should carry no more than 10 pounds on his or her back.
A backpack with individualized compartments will help you position the contents most effectively and ensure that your child’s sandwich isn’t flattened by a heavy textbook.
Tell your child to use both shoulder straps, not just one. A backpack slung over one shoulder disproportionately shifts all of the weight to one side, and can cause not only neck and muscle spasms, but also low back pain.
The shoulder straps should be adjustable, so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. Shoulder straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably, and cause misalignment and pain.
If the backpack is still too heavy, talk with your child’s teacher. It might be possible to leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter handout materials or work books.
Talk to your child about the proper use of backpacks and help him or her understand why this and other ergonomic issues are important. A child who is educated early in life on these issues can apply this knowledge late in life (at home or in the office) and as a result, your child will be happier and healthier.
Dr. Kent Owens is a chiropractor who practices in Williston.