Tips for minding your student’s back(pack) this school year

Put backpack safety on your back-to-school list of things to do.

If worn improperly, backpacks can cause strains, sprains, dislocations, fractures and other ailments. Of the 79 million students who carried backpacks in the U.S. in 2013, nearly 22,000 of them reportered injuries, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association and U.S. Consumer Safety Commission.

Here are some tips from PT Pro in Redmond to help your kids avoid hurting themselves this school year.

1. Pick the right pack.

Choose a pack that is the right size. If the backpack covers up more than 75% of your child’s back, it’s too big.

Wider straps will keep the pack from digging into their shoulders. And a padded back adds comfort and protection.

2. Lighten and distribute the load.

Teach kids to rely on their knees to lift a backpack, not their waists or back.

But first, make sure the pack isn’t too heavy. If it’s more than 10% of a child’s weight, take some items out.

Distributing items into different pockets also helps. Keep heavier items near your child’s back, while light and/or sharp items such as pens and scissors should be stored in the smaller pockets away from the back.

3. Check for warning signs.

There are sure ways to tell if a child’s backpack is too heavy or not fitting properly.

Do they have difficulty picking up and/or putting on the back? Tingling or numbness in their arms or legs? Strap marks left on their shoulders? Or do they change their posture significantly while wearing it? A yes to any of these questions means it’s not safe.

Evan Thompson, Herald writer

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