Students' heavy backpacks filled with back pain dangers

Students' heavy backpacks filled with back pain dangers

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ATLANTA -

Dr. David Marshall, the medical director for sports medicine at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, has seen kids who carry 40 lb. to 50 lb. backpacks. One of the most common issues he says he sees is children changing their healthy posture just trying to keep the loaded backpack from pulling them backwards."

The doctor says the excess weight put kids at risk of lower back pain, shoulder and neck injuries, and even headaches.

The American Occupational Therapy Association recommends your child's backpack weigh no more than 10 percent of his or her bodyweight.

Also, buy the backpack with padded straps because when they get heavy, having nice padded shoulder straps takes some of the wear and tear, some of the pressure off a person's shoulders.

And, yes, carrying your back pack by single strap may look cooler, but double-strapping could is far better for your back. You should be sure the bottom of your backpack hits the wearer's pant line.

Dr. Marshall said, "I also like to see the abdominal strap, because what the abdominal strap does is help distribute the weight evenly over the child's back and shoulders. And, it's not like a 40-pound person pulling down on their shoulders."

Maybe, one day, school supplies will be lightweight like today's tablets and e-Books. But, for now, it pays pack with a purpose.

Dr. Marshall recommends putting the heavier books and other pack-related items in the rear, closest to your child's back. Place lighter items -- like pens, pencils and rulers – in available pocket space.

Lastly, weigh your child's book bag throughout the school year to make sure the weight remains reasonable.

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