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Think Safety When Picking, Packing School Backpacks

Heavy, unbalanced loads can cause injury that is easy to avoid, experts say

boy with lunchbox

FRIDAY, Aug. 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Many students use backpacks to carry their school books and supplies, but improper use can lead to muscle and joint injury, neck and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems, child health experts warn.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that: parents and kids choose a lightweight backpack with wide, padded shoulders; two shoulder straps; a padded back; and a waist strap. A rolling backpack might be a good choice for heavy loads, but they may be hard to roll in snow and must be carried up stairs.

Children should always use both shoulder straps and tighten them so the pack is close to the body and held two inches above the waist, the experts say.

Parents are advised to make sure that the loaded backpack doesn't weigh more than 10 percent to 20 percent of the child's body weight. Heavier items should be packed closest to the center of the back.

Teach kids to bend using both knees when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack, instead of bending at the waist. Back-strengthening exercises will help build strong muscles to bear the load, according to a news release from the AAP.

If possible, children should avoid carrying all the books they need for the day and, instead, make frequent stops at their lockers.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more on backpack safety.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release
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