Tips for back to school backpack safety

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While style may be an important factor when choosing a backpack, the fit and correct use of a backpack is imperative to a child's health.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, up to 55 percent of students carry a backpack that is too heavy and 1/3 of kids complain of back pain that requires a trip to the doctor, missed school or limited physical activities.

Here are some helpful tips from Sentara to help you choose your child's backpack:

  • Backpacks shouldn't weight over 10 to 15 percent of your child's weight. For example, a 100 pound student shouldn't carry a backpack weighting more than 10 to 15 pounds. Heavy items should be placed closest to the child's back to decrease stress on their spine. Doctors encourage backpacks with multiple compartments to help distribute the load of the backpack.
  • A backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waist of a student. Some backpacks have padded backs to reduce pressure on the back.
  • Students may want to consider a backpack with wheels.

Telltale signs of improper use include red marks on the shoulder, pain when wearing the backpack and tingling or numbness in the arms and hands.