Salem Community Patriot 10 - August 13, 2010
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School Backpack Safety
submitted by Dr. Scott Szela It’s that time of year—back-to-school!
The kids will need new notebooks, pens, markers, erasers, and books. How will they carry those supplies around all day and to and from school? The most common choice is a backpack. The pack you choose for your child should have certain features and be used properly to minimize the stress to your child’s spine. Some studies have shown that up to 50
percent of adolescents experience back or neck pain and improper use of backpacks may contribute to that pain. There are laws that protect adult workers from carrying too much weight, but no laws protecting our kids! The amount of weight children are expected to carry around on a daily basis is ever increasing and happening at a younger age. So, how do you protect your child’s spine? The first thing to try and control is the amount of weight carried. Studies have reported that some students carry almost 30 percent of their weight in a pack! The total weight of the backpack should be 10 to 15 percent of your child’s body weight. Younger, smaller children are more affected by the weight carried, so they should be closer to the 10-percent limit. Using a locker can decrease the amount that needs to be carried throughout the day. At the end of the day, make sure your child is bringing home only what they need for that evening. The style of the backpack and how it is carried and loaded are also very important. When shopping for a backpack, there are a number of features to look for. The shoulder straps should be well padded, curved, and adjustable to conform to the body. The back of the pack should also be padded to prevent pressure points on your child’s back while they are carrying
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it. A pack with multiple compartments will allow you to distribute the load evenly and keep everything organized, which prevents carrying extra, unnecessary items. Compression straps on the inside or outside hold the items tight so they are not moving around in the pack.
When loading the
pack, use the same rules hikers use when they are carrying their packs for days at a time. Put the heaviest items in first and close to your back. Start with the heavy textbooks and notebooks, then put in the smaller books, note cards etc. Avoid putting anything heavy at the top of the pack or on the outside. Those areas should be reserved for something light like a jacket at the top or pens and pencils in the outer part. Now that the pack is loaded properly, it should be centered over and fit snuggly against your child’s back. Feel along your side until you hit the top of your pelvis and draw a straight line around to your back. This marks the top of your pelvis and where the bottom of the pack should sit. Extremely important is how the pack is carried. Your child should always use both shoulder straps at the same time. Even when both straps are used, it causes postural changes. A backpack carried on both shoulders will cause the trunk to bend forward and make the wearer stick
their head out forward. If the pack is carried on only one shoulder, the postural changes are much greater. The lopsided load now causes the shoulder it is carried on to elevate and shift backward and the trunk shifts to the side away from the load. This is the body’s response to the uneven load and trying to maintain its center of gravity. The greater the load and the longer it is carried only increase these postural shifts. One way to avoid stressing the spine at all is to use a pack that has
wheels. Many packs are now available that work just like a regular pack, but have wheels on the bottom, with a retractable handle on top, and allow you to just roll it along behind you
and not have to carry it all. This is the best choice if your child has to carry a lot of weight.
Carrying heavy loads for long periods of time can cause damage to the discs, ligaments, and joints of the spine. Protect your child’s spine with a quality backpack that is loaded and carried properly.
Dr. Scott Szela is a Chiropractor focusing on structural correction of the spine and practicing at Chiropractic Works in Hudson. For more information on this topic or to schedule a complimentary consultation or backpack check, contact our office at 595-2205 or visit us at www. chiropracticworksNH.com
Five time-saving tips for simplifying your back-to-school routine
As summer winds down, it means fewer backyard barbecues, shorter days, and most of all, kids headed back to school. The transition from summer to school can be daunting for any parent and each year it seems the to-do list gets longer. Lisa Gurry, one of Working Mother Magazine’s 2009 Moms of the Year, has some ideas with the help of Bing.com
that can make it a bit more manageable this fall. Her tips are: * Back-to-school shopping: Every school requires certain school supplies and most kids love the process of choosing the perfect new backpack or lunchbox. Some online sites, like Bing.com
, offer comparison shopping tools that make it easy for you to find every- thing you need at a great price and get it shipped to your house, beating the crowds. * Pantry stock-up: Before the school year gets under-
way be sure to stock up on all of the essential pantry staples (snacks, desserts, PB&J, etc.) so you will be pre- pared to pack a great lunch at a moment’s notice. Having well-stocked cupboards will help streamline your morning routine
and by planning ahead you will be able to get the best prices on all your goods. * Centralize the essentials: Don’t let things get lost in the shuffle. Turn your home’s coat closet or mud room into a school prep station so everyone knows where to find lunch boxes, backpacks, coats, etc., so when the morning rush to eat, dress and brush teeth has the household frenzied you can still make it out the door on time with everything you need for the day in hand. Check out www. bing.com/images
to view some great design ideas. * Avoid the jam: If you run
late, your kids run late. Before you leave to take your child to school or to after school activities like sports, music or dance classes, use mapping and traffic applications to find the best route to avoid traffic, so your kids aren’t stressing out about missing anything important from the things they enjoy. * The back-up plan: Even the most prepared parent hits a snag once in a while. Real- izing half-way to school the lunch box is on the kitchen counter or the gym shoes are at a friend’s house can ruin a child’s day. A handy mobile application for making mid- route stops is www.bing.com/
maps. This application allows you to use your phone to easily find the closest grocery or discount chain to pick up what you need in a hurry and keep you from missing your 9 a.m. meeting at work.
- Courtesy of ARAcontent
Celebrating our 19th year!
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