As summer days dwindle and the promise of a new school year draws near, it is a good time to start thinking about back pack safety. It’s no small matter, either. A Boston University article reports that the cost of back pack related injuries tops more than $1billion annually. Use these tips to keep your back healthy under your load of learning.
Opt for a back pack that offers multiple compartments so the weight can be evenly distributed. Place heavier items in the center near your back and use side compartments for smaller items. Lift properly, too. Bend from your knees and use both hands to lift the pack.
Lighten your load
Carry only the items you need each day. Avoid packing items such as laptops and books together when possible as the pounds can pack in quickly. Experts advise that students not carry back packs exceeding more than 10 or 15% of their body weight. Carrying heavier packs can offset balance and cause lower back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as problems with posture and circulation.
Look for a bag with wide, padded straps and a padded back for added comfort. Smaller straps can dig into your shoulders and cause discomfort. Try before you buy. Backpack size should be matched to the size of the wearer. When loaded the pack should fit along the back and not extend beyond the waist. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that packs should be made of sturdy, lightweight material. Heavier material such as leather can add unnecessarily burdensome weight.
Use the waist belt – snap this extra source of support to reduce the likelihood of backpack related injuries. Many students use only one strap. Using both straps, along with the waist belt is the safest option.
If you have a tough time getting your back pack off and on, feel pain in your back, neck or shoulders or frequently feel off balance, reduce your load. Make greater use of your locker or desk and plan homework assignments so that you can travel with fewer books. If problems persist, see your healthcare provider.