With students getting ready to return to school following the close of summer vacation, you need to make sure that your students optimize their backpacks to protect the health of their back and neck. During the past few years, there has been a growing concern that students are simply carrying too much weight on their backs. When backpacks are too heavy, this can lead to neck, shoulder, and back discomfort. Based on information that was published by the United States Consumer Product and Safety Commission, there were more than 22,000 strains, sprains, dislocations, and fractures treated by physicians in offices and emergency rooms in 2013 alone. With this in mind, what can students and parents do to protect their back and neck health.
The first tip that everyone should follow is to choose wide, padded shoulder straps. If the straps are not patted, the fabric can dig into the shoulders of students, cut through shirts, and lacerate the skin. This will lead to upper back and shoulder pain. Eventually, the arms and hands will start to become tired. Heavy backpacks can also compress the nerves that live in the arms and shoulders, leading to numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, and reduced circulation.
Sometimes, students are tempted to buy a backpack that only has one shoulder strap that goes across the chest. In other cases, students might only wear one shoulder strap, believing that it might be faster or that it could look cooler. This places all of the stress on one shoulder and will only exacerbate shoulder pain, weakness, and other problems. For this reason, students need to wear two shoulder straps at all times. Try to avoid buying backpacks that only have one strap.
One of the obvious tips that all parents and students need to remember is that backpacks become much more bearable if they are not transporting 100 pounds of books. When possible, students need to find ways to reduce the number of books in the backpack. One great way to do this is to transport copied papers instead of taking the entire textbooks. Or, students who have computers might want to try to find an electronic copy of their books somewhere. Both of these tips can go a long way toward removing weight from the shoulders of students.
Finally, students should also try to find ways to shift the contents of their backpack into multiple compartments. Lots of backpacks today come with compartments that are designed for certain items. It might be possible to divide books into two separate areas. Then, clutter at the bottom of the backpack can be moved to other areas. Try to place heavier items in the bottom of the backpack. By distributing weight evenly, students will remove most of the weight from the shoulders and distribute this across the entire body. This will also make it easier to maintain a more natural, neutral posture. Ideally, the backpack should come to rest in the middle of the back.
Finally, students need to take off their backpack when they have been standing for a prolonged period of time. The longer the backpack sits on the back, the more pressure this places on the spine. Students and parents with questions or concerns about backpack safety, particularly as it relates to back and neck health, should be sure to reach out to us to learn more. We're here to help!
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