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CHRONICLES ON HEALTH

Heavy Load

"Choosing the right backpack for your child"
By: Ma. Jocelyn A. Niere-Quidlat, MD, FPPSHeavy Load

Children nowadays go to school at an earlier age. And with the advent of new subjects to study, children bring a lot of things to school. It is not uncommon to see kids carrying different sizes of bags—the common denominator is that they are all heavy!

A backpack is a favorite that students from preschool, all the way up to college, love to use. They come in different sizes, colors, materials and styles. Besides having multiple compartments which aid the students in organizing their stuff, backpacks are better as compared with messenger bags, shoulder bags, and handbags. In using a backpack, the back and the abdominal muscles (the strongest muscles in the body) support the weight. Properly worn, backpacks provide a more even distribution of weight across the body. Backpacks that are very heavy or are worn incorrectly, however, can cause injury to the muscles and joints of children and adolescents. This in turn may lead to posture problems and severe pain over the back, neck, and shoulders.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued guidelines in choosing the right backpack. 

Look for the following:

1.  Wide, padded shoulder straps. Narrow straps can dig into shoulders, which causes pain and restrict circulation.

2.  Two shoulder straps. Backpacks with one shoulder strap that runs across the body cannot distribute weight evenly.

3.  Padded back. A padded back protects against sharp edges on objects inside the pack and increases comfort.

4.  Waist strap. A waist strap can distribute the weight of a heavy load more evenly.

5.  Lightweight. The backpack itself should not add much weight to the load.

6.  Rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up the stairs.

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