School can be a pain in the neck

Heavy books, increased homework and lack of lockers require students to carry more weight on their backs than their growing bodies can endure.

by Heather Demeritte — 

Kids are back in school, and their backs and necks are feeling the pain. Heavy books, increased homework and lack of lockers require students to carry more weight on their backs than their growing bodies can endure. Today there are ways to lessen the burden of carrying practically everything but their school desks. Invest in a backpack equipped with wheels, which offers the option of rolling it instead of carrying it. If non-wheel backpacks are the only option, the American Physical Therapy Association offers the following useful tips for parents.

Use both straps. Teens may think it looks uncool, but so is back pain. Explain to them that, over time, they will experience lower- and upper-back pain, a strained neck and shoulders, and the risk of curvature of the spine if they carry their backpack on one shoulder. Using both straps helps even out the weight and prevents the student from leaning to one side.

Lessen the load. This means kids may have to leave behind their iPods, comic books and other things that are unnecessary for school. The weight of backpacks can range from 20 to 50 pounds. Even if they use both straps, kids have to compensate for any extra weight by leaning forward. Physical therapists recommend that a child carry no more than 15 to 20 percent of his body weight. For example, if a child weighs 60 pounds, his backpack should not weigh more than 12 pounds.

Choose a bag with wide straps. Thin straps can dig into the nerves of the shoulders, inflicting immense pain.

By applying these tips, kids may not suffer real physical pain, even though they may complain that school is a pain in the neck.

 

Heather Demeritte is a fitness instructor and dance teacher at Scottsdale Community College and fitness centers in Scottsdale, Ariz. She is certified by the American Council of Exercise, with a degree in early childhood development and helps youths learn fun ways to be fit. 480-310-5854 or hac411@yahoo.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 5, October/November 2008.

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