It's Back to School!

Jesse Torres
Small Business Expert
Especial para Long Beach Al Día

It's that time of year again. When parents start to cheer and kids start to jeer. It's Back to School time. A part of the daily ritual is making sure our kids have everything they need to be successful. Books, notebooks, iPads, pens and on and on.

We love our kids. We want them to do well in school. But many times, despite our great intentions, we end up creating short- and long-term physical harm to them - particularly their spines.
Take a minute to read 10 tips you can follow to make sure you kids and their backs are protected.

My conclusion with regard to parents is that we generally know that too much weight in a backpack is not good, but we don't know how much is too much. And, surprisingly, schools and school districts have done a poor job of informing parents and students, leaving our kids susceptible to injury and long-term harm.

Based on my informal findings I have put together the following 10 tips for better managing your kids backpack loads.

1) Ensure the backpack comes with wide, padded shoulder straps. Backpacks are no longer just about utility. Backpacks today are also considered apparel. In keeping with fashion expectations, some backpack straps are thin and unpadded. Avoid these backpacks for everyday school use as they can hurt and damage skin.

2) Ensure the backpack comes with a padded back. Books and other contents have sharp and/or hard edges. A padded back protects against pain associated with continuous contact against hard edges.

3) Pack light, with the backpack weighing no more than 10% – 20% of body weight. Medical professionals advise against packing more than 20% of the child’s body weight to avoid strain on the back.

4) Organize the contents with the heaviest items closest to the back. Contents should be arranged to ensure that the heaviest items are placed closest to the back. This keeps the weight from pulling the child backwards and prevents back strain.

5) Use both straps. While hanging the backpack on only one shoulder may be convenient or look “cool,” it can cause back pain as the spine is forced to cope with uneven distribution of weight.

6) Keep the straps snug. Snug straps keep the load of the backpack close to the back and reduce backward pull against the body.

7) Pick up backpack bending both knees. Anytime something is being lifted, regardless of weight, proper form is essential. Both knees should be bent when picking up a backpack to prevent strain on the back.

8) Ensure bottom of backpack rests in the curve of the lower back when being worn. The back and shoulders should carry the load. The higher position reduces strain.

9) If the weight exceeds 20% carry an item in hand to reduce weight in the backpack. When possible carry an item outside the backpack in order to keep the contents lighter.

10) Keep pens, pencils and other sharp objects in hard plastic cases to prevent them from poking through the backpack and harming your child. Sharp items roaming loose may harm your child or someone brushing up against the backpack.

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