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Win the School Year: Backpack safety

Posted at 6:15 AM, Aug 29, 2017

NORFOLK, Va.  - News 3 is taking action to help you win the school year, and that includes backpack safety.

If it weighs too much or is not worn correctly, it could cause back pain and even change the shape of a child's spine.  News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light also offers these tips to keep your kids from a trip to the doctor's office:

How heavy is too heavy?  

A good rule of thumb is the backpack weight should not exceed ten percent of the child’s weight.

What are some tips to picking out a good backpack?

  • The correct size: never wider or longer than your child's torso and never hanging more than four inches below the waist
  • Padded back and wide shoulder straps
  • Hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight to the hips and torso
  • Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight
  • Compression straps on the sides or bottom to stabilize the contents
  • Reflective material

What health problems can result from poorly worn or heavy backpacks? 

Backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teens by injuring muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.

What tips do you recommend to prevent injury when using a backpack?

  • Always use both shoulder straps.
  • Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the body.
  • Pack heavier things lower and close to the back.
  • Pack light.  Carry only those items that are required for the day.
  • Adjust the backpack strap to keep the pack from shifting.