Health Note: Backpacks and Backaches
More than 13,000 backpack-related injuries are treated at emergency rooms and doctor’s offices every year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

But that’s no surprise, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The extra stress placed on the spine and shoulders from heavy backpacks can cause children to suffer muscle fatigue and back strain. It can also cause kids to develop bad habits, such as poor posture or excessive slouching.

What Parents Can Do
The AAOS suggests these guidelines for healthy backpack use:

• Choose a backpack with padded, wide straps and a padded back. Use a hip strap when carrying heavier weights.

• Children should use both of the backpack’s straps, firmly tightened, to hold the pack two inches above the waist.

• Teach children to use correct lifting techniques, bending with both knees when picking up a heavy backpack.

• Neatly pack the backpack to help keep items from shifting. Place heaviest items close to the back.

• Remind kids to try to make frequent trips to their lockers between classes to replace books. Consider purchasing a second set of books for home.

• Consider purchasing a backpack with wheels.