Take Charge

Back Pain, Eye Strain Accompanies New School Year

August 10, 2016

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It’s a new school year! That often means students are lugging around books, laptops, tablets, folders, paper and other heavy school supplies. And soon they’ll be spending hours working on assignments, homework and projects.

So how can you keep your kids healthy and energized? It’s simple. Just keep in mind these backpack safety and computer ergonomics tips.

Christine Alvero, Moffitt’s director of rehab, says heavy backpacks put children at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. She offers tips on how to safely carry them, as well as how to maintain proper form at the computer:

  • Put straps on both shoulders; don’t just sling it over one. Ensure that children wear their backpack midback, hanging no lower than four inches below their waistlines.
  • A backpack shouldn’t be so heavy that the body leans forward to support it. If it is, lighten the load. Backpacks should not be heavier than 10 percent of a person’s body weight.
  • Computer screens should be at eye level to reduce neck strain.
  • When typing on the keyboard, keep elbows parallel to the floor to reduce wrist strain.
  • Take frequent stretch breaks. Don’t sit at the computer for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Prolonged static postures set the body up for strain and pain. Make sure to get up; march in place; and stretch your neck, back, shoulders and wrists.
  • Feet should be flat on the floor and knees should be at a 90-degree angle. This may mean using a stool or other object under the feet if a child is at an adult work station.

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure you set your students up for success throughout the year.