School Backpacks Prove to be a Pain
School Backpacks Prove to be a Pain
It’s that time of the year again and millions of children are returning to school. They have purchased their school supplies and backpacks and headed off to their new classrooms. While the backpacks are only filled with school supplies, they are not much of an inconvenience for the students. But, once they are filled with textbooks, notebooks and other educational materials, they become a burden and a health hazard for youngsters.
Backpacks can be an important tool for students, but only when worn properly. However, most of the time children do not wear them properly and it results in numerous injuries.
Backpacks were designed in such a way to be worn on the child’s back. The wide straps on the bags should fit comfortably across the shoulders with the bulk of the bag lying evenly across the back. The back and abdominal muscles of the body are the strongest muscles and when the backpack is positioned properly, it can safely carry a reasonable amount of weight. Many experts state that students should carry no more than 10 to 15 percent of his or her body weight in a backpack. An example is a 60-pound child should carry no more than 6 to 9 pounds of books and supplies in their backpack.
The truth is many students do not wear their backpacks in the correct manner. Often times they carry too much weight and toss the bag over one shoulder which ends up causing a disproportionate amount of weight on one side of the body. When this happens you often see the child bending over to support the extra weight or walking in a different manner to accommodate the weight. Over time this behavior can cause poor posture and injuries to the neck, shoulder and back.
Weight and proper wear are not the only hazards of backpacks. Here are some points to consider:
*Straps on backpacks should be wide enough to distribute weight. Tight, narrow straps can dig into a child’s shoulders causing problems with circulation. Some common symptoms are tingling, numbness associated from damaged nerves to the child’s neck and shoulders.
*Heavy backpacks can cause a child to be uncoordinated and ungainly. Students may begin to fall, stumble, or just lose their balance from the packs. This is more often observed on stairways or other uneven surfaces.
*The size, shape and weight of heavily filled backpacks can cause students to easily bump or knock other students without realizing it. It is difficult for the wearer to realize how much space he or she is taking with such a large backpack.
*Backpacks placed next to desks or tables in a crowded classroom can often prove to be a hazard for others tripping over them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends specific guidelines when shopping and purchasing a school backpack:
Select a lightweight pack…some materials are heavier than others.
Select a backpack with two wide shoulder straps.
Select a backpack with a padded back. This ensures increased comfortable and protection from sharp pencils inside the pack.
Consider purchasing a pack with a waist belt that helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body.
Select packs with multiple compartments as this distributes weight more evenly.
If your school permits, consider using a rolling backpack, which will take the weight off of the child’s back. But it is important to remember that these bags often are hard to wheel in crowded areas, up/down stairways, and can cause tripping hazards.
As the new school year begins, it is important to learn tips to improve your child’s health and safety:
*Encourage your child to use both shoulder straps in order to wear the backpack properly.
*Tighten the straps so that the pack fits closely to the child’s body. It should be within two inches above the waist.
*Ensure the student isn’t carrying all of his/her books and belongings in the pack. Encourage more frequent stops at the school lockers if possible.
*Remind students to lift and place heavy backpacks on their backs by bending using both knees. To avoid serious injuries or accidents, a student should never bend over at the waist when wearing a heavy backpack.