With students now back in school, parents are reminded to make sure their child’s backpack fits properly and isn’t overloaded.

Edward Myers II, a family nurse practitioner with Ochsner Christus Clinic Internal Medicine-Moss Bluff, said wearing a backpack low or on one shoulder can cause more problems than just a sore back.

“The muscle strain in the neck can cause tension-type headaches, a clinical manifestation of the improper use of the backpack,” he said.

Students who get these headaches may complain of feeling like a belt is cinching around their head or an ache originating at the base of the neck.

Torticollis, a painful twisting of the neck, can result from wearing a backpack the wrong way over time, Myers said.

“They’ll often tilt their head toward the sore side caused by the effect on one shoulder,” he said.

Over time, misuse can also cause “lower back issues related to improper balance or the development of degenerative discs later in life,” Myers said. Poor posture and gait combined with an overly heavy backpack can make these ailments worse.

Backpack loads should contain no more than 10-20 percent of a student’s body weight, Myers said. Having a quality backpack is important, along with bags that have pads on the back, shoulders and other weight-bearing areas.

Students should also use all compartments of the backpack to evenly distribute the load. For heavier loads, Myers said students should either carry excess books or store them in their locker.

“Purchase a rolling backpack if you are overloaded,” he said.

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