Ontario's chiropractors advise kids to take a load off

    Backpack injuries can be easily prevented, say specialists

    TORONTO, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - With the school year in full swing, homework
can start to pile up, but a heavy workload doesn't have to be a pain. A little
know-how can make all the difference.
    That's why Ontario's back specialists are spreading the word about
backpack safety, with the relaunch of the Ontario Chiropractic Association's
(OCA's) Pack it Light, Wear it Right public awareness program.
    "Poorly designed or overloaded backpacks are a significant concern,
especially among children, whose spines are still growing," says Dr. Bryan
Wolfe, President of the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA). "Excessive or
unevenly distributed weight in a backpack can put strain on the spine, which
can lead to longer-term problems, including back pain, changes in posture and
gait, and potential irritation and injury of the spine, joints and muscles."
    But while backpack-related injuries can be serious, they can also be
easily avoided.
    "A few simple precautions is really all it takes to protect your back,"
says Dr. Wolfe.
    The OCA's Pack it Light, Wear it Right program was designed and launched
in 2002 in an effort to inform students, parents, and teachers about backpack
safety through a series of posters, information sheets, activity sheets and a
video that outlines how to pack, lift, carry, and choose a backpack.
    Now in its sixth year, the program has been implemented in countless
chiropractic offices, as well as schools, health fairs and even retail
    "The message has been getting through," says Dr. Kristina Peterson, Chair
of the OCA's External Relations Committee. "Many parents are getting on board
and acting to help protect their children from backpack-related injuries.
We're very proud to be a part of that."


    Size is everything
    Choose a backpack that is proportionate to body size and not larger than
needed. The top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the
shoulder, and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.

    It's all in the material
    Select a backpack made of lightweight material (vinyl or canvas instead
of leather).

    Strap it up
    The shoulder straps should be at least two inches wide, adjustable, and
padded. Ensure that they do not cut into or fit too snugly around and under
the arms.

    A little bit of padding
    A backpack should have a padded back for added protection and comfort.
Pack the odd-shaped items on the outside, so they don't dig into the back.

    Pack it right
    Evenly distribute contents and pack the heaviest items closest to the
body, this reduces the strain as the weight is closer to the body's centre of

    Hug your hips
    A hip strap or waist belt helps to effectively redistribute as much as 50
to 70 per cent of the weight off the shoulders and spine onto the pelvis,
balancing the strain on the bones, joints, and muscles.

    More pockets please
    Choose a backpack that has several individual pockets instead of one
large compartment, this will help to distribute the weight evenly and keep
contents from shifting.

    Weight a minute!
    Backpacks should never exceed 15 per cent of a secondary school child's
body weight or 10 per cent of an elementary school child's body weight.

    Wheels and handles
    Explore other backpack options such as a backpack with wheels and a pull
handle for easy rolling.

    The Ontario Chiropractic Association, founded in 1929, represents the
professional interests of Ontario's more than 2,800 chiropractors.
Chiropractic is a regulated health care profession recognized by statute in
all Canadian provinces. Every year approximately 4.5 million Canadians use
chiropractic services. Chiropractors provide diagnosis, treatment, and
prevention of disorders related to the spine, nervous system and joints.
    For more information on how to pack, lift, carry, and choose a backpack
visit the OCA Website at www.chiropractic.on.ca or contact:

For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Jennifer Paige, Manager of
Communications and Marketing, The Ontario Chiropractic Association, Tel: (905)
629-8211 ext. 25, Toll Free: (877) 327-2273, jpaige@chiropractic.on.ca

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Ontario Chiropractic Association

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