Overloaded book sacks can lead to back problems

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Soon Angele Lockhart will begin her senior year at Central High School, a demanding year with a full schedule and an even fuller back pack.

"I usually have up to two binders, three notebooks at most. Then, on the way home I have up to two textbooks," said Lockhart.

Last year, Lockhart suffered from sharp pain in her neck and upper back. The culprit turned out to be a student's number one accessory.

Physical Therapists say backpack back pain is a very common complaint from students at the start of the school. Symptoms include muscle spasms, shoulder and back strains and any kind of back pain.

In fact, sacks should only weigh 10 to 15 percent of a student's weight.

Another problem comes from students carrying all that weight on one shoulder. Backpacks should have wide, padded straps.  PT's also stress that backpacks should be worn up high and on both shoulders.

"If you want to pick out a book sack, have several compartments so you can distribute it evenly where when you carry it you don't have to lean to one side or another," said physical therapist Helen Balzli.

Balzli also suggests that student lighten their load whenever they can by only carrying essential books, and leaving the rest at home, in a car or locker.

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