WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW)— While parents are focused on making sure their students are safe and healthy as they go back to school, healthcare professionals want to make sure students don't hurt themselves by wearing a backpack incorrectly.
Wednesday was National Backpack Awareness Day, which is meant to bring attention to common issues that can come with improper backpack use.
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, more than 79 million students in the United States carry a backpack, 55% of them are carrying one that is too heavy.
Health care professionals give the following tips on backpacks:
- Start with a lightweight backpack
- Don't overload the backpack
- Make sure your child uses both straps
- They recommend straps are both wide and padded.
"In a backpack, you want to put the heaviest thing closest to your back, it gets lighter as it moves out. But, really, it just needs to be what's for school,"said Elissa Ewan a Physical Therapist for Aspirus. "If you really want to bring that extra something carry it in a separate bag in front of your body, so you're weighing yourself out more evenly. I mean you only get one back so you've got to protect it forever."
Backpacks are intended to distribute the weight among the body's strongest muscles.
Ewan also says if backpacks are worn incorrectly it could result in back and muscle issues later down the line.