Tips for choosing and using school backpacks

Here are some tips for choosing and using school backpacks from KidsHealth.org.

1. Look for a backpack with two padded straps that go over your shoulders. The wider the straps, the better.

2. Backpacks with multiple compartments can also help distribute the weight more evenly.

3. Use your locker. Try not to load up on the books for a full day’s classes. Make frequent locker trips to drop off heavy books or extra stuff. An added benefit is that you’ll get more exercise going back and forth to your locker.

4. Figure out the nonessentials, too. If you don’t need an item until the afternoon, why carry it around all morning?

5. Plan your homework. Plan ahead and spread your home-work out over the course of the week so you won’t have to tote all your books home on the weekend.

6. Limit your backpack load. Doctors and physical therapists recommend that people carry no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight in their packs. This means that if you weigh 120 pounds, your backpack should weigh no more than 12-18 pounds.

7. Choosing a lightweight backpack can get you off to a good start. Use your bathroom scale to weigh your backpack and get an idea of what the proper weight for you feels like.

8. Pick it up properly. As with any heavy weight, you should bend at the knees when lifting a backpack to your shoulders.

9. Strengthen your core. A great way to prevent back injury is to strengthen the stabilizing muscles of your torso, including your lower back and abdominal muscles. Weight training, pilates, and yoga are all activities that can be effective in strengthening these core muscles.

So what’s the best way to carry a backpack? Learn from the hiking pros and wear both straps over your shoulders it’s the best way to avoid back pain and other symptoms. Keep your load light enough so that you can easily walk or stand upright, and pack your backpack with the heaviest items closest to your back

Information provided by KidsHealth.org from the health experts of Nemours. © The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth

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