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Thu04242014

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When is a child’s backpack too heavy?

(PRNewswire-USNewswire) – As kids return to school, don't wait for them to complain about back pain. Pay attention to their posture and keep an attentive eye on their backpacks.

Here are some safety tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

• Always use both shoulder straps to keep the weight of the backpack better distributed.

• Tighten the straps and use waist strap if the bag has one.

• Remove or organize items if too heavy and place biggest items closest to the back.

• Lift properly and bend at the knees to pick up a backpack.

• Carry only those items that are required for the day; leave books at home or school, if possible.

• Keep walkways clear of backpacks to avoid tripping over them.

Parents also can help with backpack-related pain:

• Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy backpack, like numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.

• Purchase a backpack appropriate for the size of your child and look for any changes in your child's posture when he or she wears the backpack.

• Watch your child put on or take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle. Do not ignore red marks on the shoulders if your child or teenager expresses discomfort.

• Talk to the school about lightening the load. Keep the load under 10-15 percent of the child's body weight.

• Be sure the school allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day.

Teachers can help by following these tips:

• When planning lessons, take into consideration ways to lighten a child's backpack load.

• Allow enough time for kids to stop by their lockers to drop off books.

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