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Idaho Voices

Lighter backpacks can prevent injuries

Students in North Idaho are heading back to school and soon will follow homework, textbooks and heavy backpacks.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, backpacks loaded with textbooks, notebooks, paper and other school supplies can result in faulty posture. Because children are still growing, they are more susceptible to lifelong injuries caused by heavy and improperly worn backpacks.

APTA suggests that the weight of a backpack should not exceed 15 percent of a child’s body weight. The press release stated that the vast majority of children are carrying as much as 25 percent of their body weight on their backs. They warn that faulty postures can cause muscles and soft tissues to work harder, leading to strain and fatigue, putting the neck, shoulders and back in a much more vulnerable state.

The APTA and local physical therapists recommend children lighten their load. They suggest that to decrease the weight of the backpack, remove books and binders that will not be needed for the following day at school. When large books must be taken to school, place them as close to the back as possible. This will reduce the amount of strain, causing the student to lean backward. Children should also wear both straps. Using both straps allows the entire body to bear the weight of the backpack and keeps the body symmetrical.

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