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Published on August 12, 2015

The right way to wear a backpack to prevent injuries

By Heather Crawford, WTLV

Did you know there is a right and a wrong way to wear a backpack?

If your child's backpack is too heavy, it could really cause some problems like severe back, neck and shoulder pain.

That's why it's important to make sure you pick the right backpack and follow some easy tips.

It may look cool to carry a backpack on one shoulder, but Kate Bodden, a physical therapist at St. Vincent's Riverside says it's not a good idea.

Not using both shoulder straps could alter your child's body mechanics and lead to poor posture.

"The proper way to wear a backpack is you are going to keep it high, the shoulder straps all the way tight. You are going to keep it close to the body, and make sure it doesn't drop below the hips. It shouldn't be wider than her torso or longer than her torso," said Bodden.

While students, like 8-year-old Jeremiah Morris, are excited to start the new school year, making sure they have a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps, a padded back and a waist strap can help prevent injuries.

"This one does fit him appropriately. It sits right at his hips, and it's just about the width of his torso," said Bodden.

Once you find the right fit, make sure it's not too heavy.

Bodden says the rule of thumb is your child's backpack should not weigh more than 10-15 percent of their body weight.

Pack heavier items towards the center of the back.

The American Occupational Therapy Association encourages parents to watch for warning signs that the backpack is too heavy, including:

• Difficulty when putting on or taking off the backpack

• Pain when wearing the backpack

• Tingling or numbness in the arms or legs

• Red strap marks over the anterior part of the shoulders

• Any change in side to side posture while wearing the backpack.

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