By Dr. Christopher Burks
As summer winds down and school resumes, supply shopping is in full swing. At the top of the list is a new backpack. While shopping for a new backpack is a longtime tradition for many, the retail industry continues to take it up a notch by offering endless, trendy options each year.
When shopping for that perfect carry-all, it’s important to remember that it likely will be your child’s hardest-working supply, as it’s used every day to carry items to and from school and will need to withstand the daily wear and tear that comes with the territory.
Some of the important features to look for include two shoulder straps that are wide and padded, a padded back and a waist strap, The bag also should be lightweight and/or have rolling capability.
Some of the most common backpack-related injuries include:
- Muscle strain in the neck, shoulder or back, particularly if the backpack is too heavy or being carried by only one of the straps
- Numbness, tingling or discomfort in the arms or legs associated with too-thin straps, too much weight, or carrying the bag with one strap
- Tripping over a backpack because of its bulky size
Recommendations to avoid backpack injuries include keeping your child’s backpack weight to less than 15 percent of his or her body weight, encouraging your child to bring only necessary books and materials home each night and helping your child understand backpack safety and how to properly load his or her bag.
Once you’ve found the one, parents can help ensure their children’s safety by encouraging them to:
- Pack light, removing items if the backpack is too heavy
- Organize the items by packing heavier things low and toward the center
- Lift the backpack up properly by bending at the knees
- Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the back
- Use both shoulder straps when carrying a backpack
Dr. Christopher Burks is an orthopaedic spine specialist with Bienville Orthopaedic Specialists. Reach him at 228- 230-BONE (2663).