With the start of a new school year here, many of us have purchased school supplies and are planning for another year of homework and school projects. For children, choosing the right backpack can be an important step toward reducing exposure to ergonomic risk factors. Consider purchasing an ergonomically designed backpack with the following features:
- Wide, padded shoulder straps to minimize contact points and soft tissue compression
- Multiple compartments to evenly distribute the weight of the load being carried
- Extra padding on the inside of the backpack to protect the student’s low back
- A waist belt to distribute the load, reduce stress in the lumbar region, and secure the pack while walking and bending
Additional backpack carrying tips include:
- Carry less in your backpack.
- Consider buying an extra set of books to keep at home to eliminate the need to carry books back and forth.
- Tighten straps while wearing the backpack so the weight is close to your body, and don’t let the backpack ride below the waist.
- Put the heaviest items closest to your back.
- Kids should carry backpacks that weigh less than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.
Upon arriving home from school, many students often find themselves completing schoolwork while sitting on the floor, a sofa, or a bed. Establish a dedicated study area that includes the following:
- A comfortable chair with adequate lumbar support
- An adjustable footrest so that the student sits with the feet supported at all times
- A solid writing surface with necessary office supplies within an easy arm’s reach
- Sufficient lighting for reading and writing tasks
- A quiet work area, free from excessive noise and distractions
Encourage your student to take frequent (but not too frequent) study breaks—and make it a great school year!