# 7 Tips to make Schoolbags less like Mulebags

Both of my boys are in secondary school and as there isn’t one in Adare, they take the bus into the city.  Every morning they hoist their school bags up onto their backs and haul them, along with their sports gear to school.  It reminds me of pack mules struggling with a swaying load of bricks on their backs. Carrying heavy bags can wreak havoc so here are 7 safety tips to prevent backpack pain in your child, as suggested by the AAOS and Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America (POSNA)

  • Parents should buy a backpack that’s an appropriate size for the child. They should encourage their child to alert them about numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, which may indicate that a backpack fits poorly or that a child is carrying too much weight.
  • Watch your child put on or take off a backpack to see if he has difficulty. If a backpack appears too heavy, have the child remove some of the books and carry them in his arms to ease the load on his back.
  • Children should carry no more than 15 to 20 per cent of their body weight in their bags, They should use both shoulder straps on backpacks and adjust the straps to keep the load close to the back.
  • When lifting backpacks, bend at the knees.
  • Remove or reorganize items if a backpack is too heavy.
  • When packing, place heavier items low and toward the center. Carry only items that are required for the school day or for homework.happy and smiling teenage girl
  • Children should be encouraged to stop at their locker (if applicable) throughout the day to drop off heavier books.

Good advice. Of course, the best option would be fewer books but until a sustainable alternative to textbooks is found (personally I would ban workbooks immediately), prevention of backache is paramount.  If you think your child’s school bag is causing pain, go to a medical practitioner – your GP, physio, chiropractor or osteopath.  Ask them to write a letter for you and bring it to your school. Arrange to meet with the class teacher and principal to discuss the serious health issue affecting your child. Raise this Health & Safety issue with your parents’ council or association and keep championing the cause – it may take time but if you don’t start nothing will change.

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