Students can avoid back strain by following a few simple tips.
When a 74-pound kid hoists on a backpack filled with books and notebooks and the necessities of kid-life these days, it's like an adult gaining 20 pounds overnight.
In fact, back specialists are hearing sporadic reports of children developing muscle strains and backaches because of how much they are carrying, and the way they are carrying it.
There are things parents and children can do to prevent backpack-related back strain, which usually surfaces in the lower back or between the shoulder blades:
* Make copies of textbook ma-terials children need for a particular day so they can leave the book at home.
* Substitute paperback versions of dictionaries or other reference books.
* Choose lightweight notebooks.
* Clean out backpacks periodically to remove unnecessary items.
* Carry the pack on both shoulders to evenly distribute any weight.
* Restrict backpack use if kids complain about the weight, or if they've injured themselves during another activity.
If children complain badly enough about the pain and it keeps them from participating in an activity they enjoy, that's a strong -- signal to see a doctor, says Dr. Randall Dryer, a spinal surgery specialist with the Central Texas Spine Institute.
Pub Date: 8/23/98