According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), backpacks can be a source of injury if not worn correctly. “The effects of carrying an overloaded backpack should not be taken lightly,” says AAOS spokesperson Afshin Razi, MD. “Injuries to the muscles and joints can lead to sevee back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems that can take weeks or months to heal.”
With the start of a new school year upon us, the AAOS recommends lightening the load with these tips:
• Use both shoulder straps to keep the weight of the backpack better distributed and adjust the shoulder straps to keep the load close to the back. Depending on the student’s commute and accessibility of school, roller or crossbody bags can be good alternatives.
• Remove or organize items if too heavy and pack the heavier things low and towards the center. When lifting backpacks, bend at the knees.
• Carry only those items that are required for the day. If possible, leave books at home or school.
• At home and at school, keep walkways clear of backpacks to avoid tripping over them.
• Don’t ignore numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, which may indicate poor fit or too much weight being carried.
• Purchase a backpack appropriate for the size of the student.
• If you’re a parent, purchase a backpack appropriate for the size of the student. Observe your child put on or take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle.
• Encourage your child to stop at their locker throughout the day, as time permits, to drop off heavier books.