Living Well: A-B-C’s of Smart Backpack Use

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – If you’re taking your children shopping for back to school, you might want to take a closer look at the backpack you plan to buy them.

That’s because the type of backpack they use and how they carry it, could create health problems in the long run.

Choosing the right backpack is one of the most important decisions for children gearing up for the first day of classes.

“Color and what it looks like. No one really judges it on its size and how it feels,” says middle school student Carter Hanan.

Backpacks are a way for kids to express their personal sense of style. But for Carter, it’s much more than the brand and design. This 7th grader looks beyond appearance.

“The only thing we tested it for was how big it was to see if it’d fit all the books I would have to carry,” he explains.

His parents’ priority? Making sure it fits right and meets the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) recommendation.

“Set the guidelines to be a weight 10 to 15 percent of their body weight, not to exceed that,” says Cheri Hayes, a physical therapist at Baptist Health.

Otherwise, it could result in injury. Making adjustments to prevent back, shoulder or neck pain is also important.

“You can see how this is too low and this is really way down below her. The strong muscles are on her back,” Hayes adds.

Hayes says she sees a number of students come in with backpack-related injuries. A lot of it has to do with how heavy the backpack is and how they’re wearing it, especially if it’s over one shoulder.

“We can look at our students and see, you know do we see a posture change, are they bent forward, are they trying to carry a backpack that’s too heavy?,” she explains.

“It depends on how much homework I have. If I have a lot, then it’s heavy and I lean forward,” says Carter.

To avoid it altogether, Carter is exchanging style for comfort and health.

Click here to learn more about the APTA’s list of backpack recommendations.

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