Avoid back in­juries by choos­ing the right back­pack

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - YOU AT YOUR BEST -

Find­ing the right back­pack is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of back-to-school shop­ping. Chil­dren may have their own ideas of what’s in style, but par­ents should look for back­packs that are func­tional be­fore fac­tor­ing in style. Mar­ry­ing form and func­tion to­gether can be chal­leng­ing, but it’s nec­es­sary to pre­vent stu­dents from de­vel­op­ing back prob­lems. But par­ents must give con­sid­er­a­tion to more than just the size of their chil­dren’s back­packs. De­pend­ing on school sched­ules, stu­dents may be car­ry­ing back­packs for up to 1 hours per day, ve days per week. Back­packs may be lled with sev­eral pounds of stuff, such as text­books, binders, lap­tops, and other sup­plies, po­ten­tially lead­ing to in­jury.

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion, at least 14,000 chil­dren are treated for back­pack-re­lated in­juries ev­ery year. The Amer­i­can Academy of Or­tho­pe­dic Sur­geons says that the weight of a back­pack should not ex­ceed 10 to 15 per­cent of a child’s body weight. But many stu­dents pack their bags with much more weight than that. Im­prop­erly sized, worn and over­stuffed back­packs can in­jure joints and lead to neck, back and shoul­der in­juries. They also may af­fect chil­dren’s pos­ture.

Choose a stream­lined model

Se­lect a back­pack that will get the job done with­out much added bulk. Many back­packs have been de­signed to hold tech­no­log­i­cal de­vices as more and more schools in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy into the class­room. A less bulky bag might be lighter and easy to carry.

Con­sider shop­ping at a sport­ing goods store

Em­ploy­ees at camp­ing and sport­ing goods re­tail­ers un­der­stand how to t back­packs for hik­ers and out­door ad­ven­tur­ers. They can help mea­sure a stu­dent and nd a pack that will t his or her body frame. Also, these re­tail­ers may have a wider se­lec­tion of back­packs than some other stores, in­creas­ing the chances of nd­ing the right t.

Se­lect a pack with a waist strap

Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Chi­ro­prac­tic As­so­ci­a­tion, the body is not de­signed to carry items hang­ing from shoul­ders. By us­ing the waist strap in con­junc­tion with taut shoul­der straps, stu­dents can dis­trib­ute the weight in their back­packs over their hip bones in­stead of the shoul­ders. The padded and ad­justable shoul­der straps should be at least two inches wide. All straps should be used each time the pack is worn.

Back­packs should be loaded prop­erly

Heavy items should be near the cen­ter bot­tom to dis­trib­ute the load, rather than placed on top. Stu­dents should only carry what is nec­es­sary, vis­it­ing lock­ers or desks as needed to lighten their packs.

Back­pack t and func­tion­al­ity is some­thing par­ents should take se­ri­ously when shop­ping for school sup­plies.

School en­try may re­quire documentation of im­mu­niza­tion records. Find out what your child’s school re­quires and bring any school forms for your health­care provider to ll out and sign. Be sure to keep your own copy of any records. Fail­ure to keep im­mu­niza­tions upto-date could pre­vent your child from at­tend­ing school.


A healthy, well-rounded diet is cru­cial in the learn­ing process for chil­dren. Start­ing the day off with a whole­some, healthy break­fast can help chil­dren stay fo­cused and alert. Break­fast should be rich in pro­tein and ber to help curb hunger pangs and ward them off un­til lunch. Whole grain toast, eggs, fruit, and yo­gurt are some great op­tions for a sat­is­fy­ing break­fast.

Cut­ting back on added su­gars will also prove bene cial to a child’s health. Added su­gars are syrups and su­gars that are added dur­ing the pro­cess­ing or prepa­ra­tion of foods or bev­er­ages. This doesn’t in­clude nat­u­ral oc­cur­ring su­gars like the ones found in fruits and milk. In 2005-2008, the av­er­age per­cent of to­tal daily calo­ries from added su­gars was 16 per­cent for boys (with av­er­age in­take of 362 calo­ries), and 16 per­cent for girls (with av­er­age in­take of 282 calo­ries) aged 2 to 19 years.

Too many added su­gars can lead to se­ri­ous health prob­lems in­clud­ing weight gain and obe­sity, type 2 di­a­betes, and heart dis­ease. The Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion sug­gests that chil­dren and teens ages 2-18 should limit added sugar to no more than 6 tea­spoons per day.

Added sugar has no nu­tri­tional bene ts, yet it is found in many foods in­clud­ing ketchup, salad dress­ings, some ce­re­als, smooth­ies, and even some sweet­ened yo­gurts. In­stead of pack­ing a sug­ary fruit drink in your child’s lunch, opt for a health­ier op­tion such as wa­ter and a whole fruit.

Soda and iced tea are also drinks you should avoid pack­ing in their lunch due to the high sugar con­tent. When pack­ing snacks, try to in­clude fresh fruits, yo­gurt (with no added sweet­en­ers), car­rots, or nuts.


Get­ting the right amount and good qual­ity of sleep is just as im­por­tant to a child’s suc­cess at school as their diet. Healthy sleep re­quires a suf cient amount of un­in­ter­rupted good qual­ity sleep. Even the smallest amount of sleep de­pri­va­tion can cause fa­tigue in chil­dren, so it is im­por­tant to main­tain healthy sleep in or­der to en­sure the child stays en­gaged with ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, pre-school aged chil­dren (3-5 years) need 10-13 hours of sleep per 24 hours (in­clud­ing naps); school age chil­dren (6-12 years) need 9-12 hours of sleep per 24 hours; and teens (13-18 years) need 8-10 hours of sleep per 24 hours.

The back-to-school rou­tine can al­ready be hec­tic with all the lists of school items to pur­chase and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties to join, caus­ing the im­por­tance of health to take a back­seat. By fol­low­ing a few prac­ti­cal guide­lines, this school year can be a more smooth and healthy one.

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