Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ANJC Members Spread the Word on Backpack Safety

As students, ready to return to school, filled their backpacks with all their new supplies, member chiropractors of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC) began a statewide campaign to get kids to lighten up.

“It is estimated that at least half of all student backpacks are too heavy for children to be carrying. As a result doctors and chiropractors are seeing more children than ever complaining of back pain, which can have long-term effects,” said ANJC Executive Director Sigmund Miller, who recently appeared on News 12 New Jersey to discuss the growing health problem.

ANJC members spoke to news reporters, radio and television announcers and others throughout New Jersey in August, making parents and children aware of the hazards of heavy backpacks and providing tips on making them lighter and easier to carry.

“Research is revealing the negative effects of improper backpack use. Abnormal stress on a young child’s growing spine can have a significant negative impact,” said Dr. Kenneth Freedman, a member of the ANJC also a Backpack Safety America instructor who spoke on New Jersey 101.5. “Early exposure to back stress can lead to a lifetime of back pain.”

ANJC mebers will continue their campaign by offering free backpack evaluations for students whose parents stop by their offices.

Parents should help their kids “lighten up” by following the tips below.

Choose the right back pack - Choose a backpack that has wide cushioned straps which will distribute the weight on shoulders evenly. In addition, a backpack with a waist strap helps stabilize the load by not allowing the pack to flop around.

Make sure the fit is right – Make sure the backpack fits properly. The straps should not be so tight that the pack goes above the collar line and the pack should not be wider than the shoulders. It should also be adjusted tightly enough so that it does not hang more than four inches below the belt line.

Pack correctly - The weight of the loaded backpack should not be more than 15 percent of the body weight of the wearer, particularly with small children. Also, students should pack the heaviest objects first so that they are carried lower and closer to the body. Students should only be packing essential items and if needed, make frequent stops at a locker to exchange books.

Lift correctly - Check the weight of the backpack. Face the backpack before picking it up. Bend at the knees and make sure to lift with the legs, not with the back. Put on one strap at a time.

Wear correctly - Use both straps and make sure they are snug. If there is a waist strap, use it. Don’t sling the backpack over one shoulder. Messenger style bags, which get slung over one shoulder, should be rotated so that they’re not being carried over the same shoulder all the time.

Parents should look for some the following warning signs that a child’s backpack may be causing a problem: The child cannot take his backpack off or put it on without struggling; The child has to lean forward to carry his bag; The child has numbness or weakness in the arms and legs; The child has one shoulder that is higher than the other.

Health information provided by the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors and your local chiropractor.

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