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Minnesota Chiropractic Association Offers Backpack Safety Checklist

EDINA, Minn., Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The backpack is a back-to-school staple. In addition to being functional, they can be a fashion accessory as well. However, backpacks are a leading cause of back and shoulder pain for millions of children and adolescents. As students head back to school, the Minnesota Chiropractic Association offers parents advice on preventing unnecessary backpack pain and injuries.

The MCA offers the following checklist to help parents select the best possible backpack for their children:

Is the backpack the correct size for your child? The backpack should

never be wider or longer than your child's torso, and the pack should

not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs

too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to

lean forward when walking.

Does the backpack have two wide, padded shoulder straps? Non-padded

straps are not only uncomfortable, but also they can place unnecessary

pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles.

Does your child use both straps? Lugging a heavy backpack by one strap

can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to

neck and muscle spasms, low-back pain, and poor posture.

Are the shoulder straps adjustable? The shoulder straps should be

adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. The

backpack should be evenly centered in the middle of your child's back.

Does the backpack have a padded back? A padded back not only provides

increased comfort, but also protects your child from being poked by

sharp edges on school supplies (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside

the pack.

Does the pack have several compartments? A backpack with individualized

compartments helps position the contents most effectively. Make sure

that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will

rest on your child's back, and try to place the heaviest items closet to

the body.

The MCA recommends that parents help children pack their backpacks properly, and make sure children never carry more than 10 percent of their body weight. For example, a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn't carry a backpack heavier than 10 pounds, and a 50-pound child shouldn't carry more than 5 pounds. In addition, parents should ask their children to report any pain or other problems resulting from carrying a backpack.

To find a doctor of chiropractic near you, visit MCA's Web site at

SOURCE Minnesota Chiropractic Association
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