Did you know that backpacks can cause headaches, back, shoulder and neck pain, muscle spasms and tingling in the extremities? According to a study performed by the University of Michigan, more than 60% of children will experience back pain before their 18th birthday and these problems are often chronic and can cause symptoms that will last their entire lives.
A hallmark of back to school is shopping for The Backpack, which has to fit a laundry list of cool criteria. Amid your childs wish list, opt to make a choice thats healthy for your student and for the planet.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends choosing a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back for comfort. Remind your child to pack light, organizing his or her belongings in all of the available compartments to help distribute weight, keeping heavier items close to the center of the back.
The AAP guidelines also say the pack shouldnt weigh more than 10 to 20% of your child's body weight. For a 70 pound child, thats only 7 to 14 pounds. Try weighing a full backpack on a bathroom scale to get an idea of how much your child is really carrying, and then get creative about lessening the load, whether its leaving unnecessary items in a locker or carrying a heavy item by hand.
To make your choice healthy for the earth as well, look for a backpack made from sustainable materials, such as recycled fabrics. Check out EcoMall or The Ultimate GreenStore, which carries the Ginia Recycled Rice Sack Backpack from Reacyclements.
For more tips about keeping your child healthy and safe, sign up for the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology newsletter.