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Make Sure That Backpack Is Not A Backbreaker
Heavy backpacks are weighing on kids' health (CCSS Level: Grade 6, Words: 426)
Sep 11, 2016 Style & Living

Now that school has started again, millions of kids are slinging a backpack over their shoulder in the morning and heading out the door to school. What self-respecting kid these days would be without a backpack? They free the arms so the cellphone can be used while they walk, they look cool with those shark's teeth or minion logos, and they allow them to carry lots of stuff, right? And there, say the experts, lies a big problem.

One back surgeon working at the Texas Back Institute reports many kids, from elementary to high school, showing serious back complaints because of heavy and poor-fitting backpacks. Symptoms include lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches. And the problems may not just be temporary. For example carrying the backpack on just one shoulder causes the spine to curve to the side at the top, leading to rounded shoulders and leaning to one side. This damage, and the pain that goes with it, can become permanent.

Choosing a good backpack helps a lot. Experts say kids should choose packs with a padded back, a waist belt to put some of the load onto the hips, and stretchy straps on the sides or bottom to help keep the load steady. Straps should be adjusted to make sure the pack rests close to the middle of the body instead of sagging too low. This keeps the weight close, so the load does not pull on the back.

The Texas Back Institute surgeon says "Once our head goes forward with that forward posture, gravity pulls, gravity always wins. We don't want to work against gravity, so we want to have a nice posture with sort of your ear over your shoulder without that forward slumping."

If parents notice a change in the way their child is standing when they are wearing their backpack, for example if they are leaning forward even a little bit, then their backpack is too heavy. Something else to look for is if the child is struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack.

Experts say that the pack should not weigh more than 10% to 15% of the child's body weight. So, for example, a child with a weight of 40kg should not be carrying a pack that weighs more than 4kg to 6kg. But surveys show that over half of kids are going over this weigh limit.

So before that school kid leaves in the morning, parents are advised to check to make sure that pack is not harming their child's health.

In the first paragraph, what, say the experts, is the big problem?
backpacks don't fit children correctly
parents are not paying attention to backpacks
kids are carrying too much stuff in their packs
kids are not wearing backpacks correctly
How does the surgeon say that you can tell if you are standing properly when wearing your backpack?
your ear is over your shoulder
you struggle when putting on the pack
keep the weight close to your body
get your parents to check your pack
What would be the maximum pack weight for a child who weighed 60kg?
In the final sentence, the word "advised" could be replaced with:
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change or move for the right fit



urged or encouraged



show unhappiness about an event or situation



bending, not straight



hurt or cause harm



what makes up all matter



persons with great skill in some area



a force that pulls towards the Earth



free from illness or injury


an organization having a scientific, educational, or social purpose



an irregular-shaped piece of material



become aware of



lasting forever, never ending



the way a person stands or sits



something that might be harmful, needing to be solved



something not right, harmful



a feeling of high regard for someone or something for their quality



hanging down under weight


self re-spec-ting

having self respect, proud



maybe causing great harm



to throw or hang loosely



the bones of the back



trying to do something that is hard



a doctor who carries out operations



a view or check on something



a check of someone or something



signs of illness



only for a short time



how heavy something is