Backpacks:Can They Cause Back Problems?

backpacksThe Dept of Health and Human Services ran an article on HHS.gov about backpacks.This is what they want you to know about children and adults using backpacks.

Backpacks are a better option than shoulder or messenger bags for carrying books and supplies because the weight of the pack is evenly distributed across your body. However, backpacks that are overloaded or not used properly can make for health problems.

How Can Backpacks Cause Problems?

People who carry heavy backpacks sometimes lean forward. Over time, this can cause the shoulders to become rounded and the upper back to become curved. Because of the heavy weight, there’s a chance of developing shoulder, neck, and back pain.

If you wear your backpack over just one shoulder, or carry your books in a messenger bag, you may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight. You might develop lower and upper back pain and strain your shoulders and neck.

Not using a backpack properly can lead to poor posture.

Carrying a heavy pack increases the risk of falling, particularly on stairs or other places where the backpack puts the wearer off balance.

People who carry large packs often aren’t aware of how much space the packs take up and can hit others with their packs when turning around or moving through tight spaces, such as the aisles of the school bus. Students also are injured when they trip over large packs or the packs fall on them.

How Do You Know If a Backpack Is a Problem?

You may need to put less in your pack or carry it differently if:

  • you have to struggle to get your backpack on or off
  • you have to lean forward to carry your pack
  • you have back pain

If you adjust the weight or the way you carry your pack but still have back pain or numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, talk to your doctor.

Tips for Choosing and Using Backpacks

  • Consider the construction. Before you grab that new bag off the rack, make sure it’s got two padded straps that go over your shoulders. The wider the straps, the better. A backpack with a metal frame like the ones hikers use may give you more support (although many lockers aren’t big enough to hold this kind of pack).
  • Carry it well. Before you load your backpack, adjust the straps so the pack sits close to your back. If the pack bumps against your lower back or your butt when you walk, the straps are probably too long. Always pack your backpack with the heaviest items closest to your back. Don’t drop all your stuff in the main compartment (using the side pockets will distribute the weight more evenly).
  • Try a pack with wheels. Lots of kids use these as an alternative to backpacks, but there are guidelines and considerations to keep in mind with this kind of pack, too. Many schools don’t allow rolling packs because people can trip over them in the halls.
  • Limit your load. Doctors and physical therapists recommend that people carry no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight in their packs. This means that if you weigh 120 pounds, your backpack should weigh no more than 12 to 18 pounds. Choosing a lightweight backpack can get you off to a good start. Use your bathroom scale to weigh your backpack and get an idea of what the proper weight for you feels like.
  • Pick it up properly. As with any heavy weight, you should bend at the knees when lifting a backpack to your shoulders.

Summer and Snakes

snakes

With summer comes the need to be aware of the places that snakes usually inhabit.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham recently treated its first snakebite case of the season, noted Dr. Janyce Sanford, chair of the university’s department of emergency medicine.

“That is a usual pattern. As soon as the weather starts to warm up, snakes begin to get active and we begin seeing a bite or two. Still, we only see a few each spring, and people have a much greater chance of being stung by a bee or wasp or being bitten by a tick than being bitten by a snake,” Sanford said in a university news release.

If you’re in the woods or near rivers and creeks, keep an eye out for snakes and wear boots and long pants, she warned. It’s also a good idea to carry a cellphone.

“Get to an emergency department as quickly as you safely can, and that can often be accomplished by calling 911,” Sanford said. “Snap a picture of the snake with the cell phone if possible, but leave the snake behind. The last thing we need in a crowded emergency room is a snake, dead or alive.”

Emergency doctors do not need to see the snake that caused the bite. A large number of bites are dry — with no venom injected — or are from nonpoisonous snakes, Sanford noted. By monitoring the wound for a few hours, doctors can tell if venom is present, and appropriate antivenin can then be given to the patient.

Most bites by snakes are not fatal. Those at higher risk include the elderly, very young children and people with underlying medical problems”, Sanford said.

More information:

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about snakebites.

SOURCE: University of Alabama at Birmingham, news release, April 24, 2014

Hiking with the Kids

School is almost over, summer is fast approaching, and the season of family get togethers, reunions, vacations and barbeques is close at hand. Quite a few of these events may take place in a park, where there will be the chance to take the kids out for a family hike.

Hiking is a great way to spend some quality time together as a family, and is a terrific form of exercise. Getting out in nature, and maybe leaving behind all the instant communication technologies, can be quite liberating too.

hiking

Now, before you get up and hit those trails, there are some simple and important rules you should keep in mind. Remember, you want this to be a fun experience, for both you and your kids.

You can always hike more, but never less.

So, start out with a short hike in mind. If it is going well, you can simply add to it as you go along. Go too far, for too long, and you may be carrying the little ones back to the car.

Safety first.

Bug bites, sunburn and skinned knees are the most common safety issues you want to make sure you can take care of on the trail.

• Sunscreen and bug-spray all exposed skin before setting out on the trail.

• Long pants are better than shorts in protecting the legs from bug bites.

• For the skinned knee, or hand, some anti-biotic cream and band-aids are a good idea to have on hand.

Stay hydrated!

Make sure you bring along plenty of water. There is no such thing as too much water, and the best place to carry your water is inside you. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. Stop every 20-30 minutes and take a few swigs of water. Stay away from sugary drinks, straight water is more than good enough.

Keep up your strength.

Have some good energy snacks with you too. Depending on the length of the hike, you may want to stop, perhaps at a scenic viewpoint, and take a little break with something to eat.

Have a plan if…

The last simple rule needs a whistle Make sure each child has a whistle attached to them. I don’t mean in their pocket, I mean around their neck, or looped into their belt, so they cannot lose the whistle. If, they should ever become separated from the group, they can blow the whistle loud and clear, while staying put. Make sure this is explained to them before, and reviewed during, the hike.

Have fun!

These rules, if followed, will go a long way in making that family walk in the woods a good one. Having it be a good time, a good memory, that is the key to getting the kids – and you – to want to do it again. Hiking is a great exercise that can take your kids to great places as part of a life-long activity.

Some helpful websites for making the family hike fun and safe:

Hiking with Kids – American Hiking Society http://www.americanhiking.org/resources/hiking-with-kids/

• A short list of ideas to keep the hike “kid-friendly.”

Helpful Tips on Hiking – American Hiking Society

http://www.americanhiking.org/gear-resources/tips-for-your-next-hike/

• An excellent resource on everything you may need to know about getting started with hiking. From boots to bug-spray, rain gear to snacks, and safety and first-aide on the trail.

hiking

Kids and Hiking – REI

http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/kids-hiking.html

Just Jeff’s Hiking Page

http://www.tothewoods.net/HikingWithKids.html

Tips for Hiking with Kids

http://www.wta.org/hiking-info/children/resources-for-families/how-to/tips-for-hiking-with-kids

 

Article by: Ned M Campbell is the head coach of James Madison High School’s wrestling team in Brooklyn, NY, and is a USA Wrestling nationally certified coach. He is a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Officer, who also teaches history at James Madison teamHigh School.  Prior to teaching, Ned M Campbell worked with children and adults with disabilities during summer programs with IAHD and Southeast Consortium,  and volunteered time supporting a therapeutic horseback riding program for youth and adults with disabilities.

Campbell is a published writer, and a contributing writer to the “Can Do” Street blog for kids and parents. In addition, he is the voice of Coach Campbell in “Can Do” Street programs.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Coach Campbell’s co-article for kids, on this subject, featured on the “Can Do” Kids blog at http://candostreet.com/blog-kids/

 

New Obesity Weapon: Kids Teaching Kids

MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health published the following press release on their site regarding  study findings that support kids teaching kids when it comes to fighting obesity.

MONDAY, Feb. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) — When older kids teach younger kids about nutrition and the benefits of exercise, the little ones seem to lose weight and gain knowledge about healthy living, Canadian researchers report.kids

Such a program — called Healthy Buddies — was tested in Manitoba elementary schools. It helped heavy kids lose an average of half an inch off their waist and increased their knowledge of diet and exercise, the researchers said.

“Engaging older kids in delivering health messages to younger peers is an effective method for preventing weight gain, improving knowledge of healthy living and increasing self-esteem,” said lead researcher Jonathan McGavock, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba.

“The effects of this peer mentoring model of healthy living promotion is particularly effective for overweight children,” McGavock said. This approach — detailed online in the Feb. 10 issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics — could help curb the obesity epidemic among young children in North America, he said. The percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 considered obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

McGavock said younger children see older children as role models, which is why their advice is taken more seriously than when the same message is delivered by adults. “Younger children likely pay more attention to messages or cues from older peers,” he said. “Therefore, proper role modeling of healthy behaviors should be a key objective of elementary schools.”

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., said he wasn’t surprised by the findings. “In my many interactions with parents regarding the importance of good nutrition in childhood, one of the more frequent protests over the years has been peer pressure,” Katz said. “Parents, it seems, often feel powerless to overcome the negative influence of peers eating badly.”

But Katz, a father of five, said he has seen the upside of peer pressure. “My wife and I have shared our devotion to healthy living with our children, and they have made it their own,” he said. “They, in turn, have helped pay it forward, influencing their peers favorably.”This paper illustrates the opportunity to convert negative peer pressure into a positive peer influence,” Katz said.

“We can teach healthy living skills to older kids and they, of course, benefit,” he said. “They can then help pass these skills along to younger kids, and both groups benefit some more. This paper highlights an important opportunity we have only begun to leverage — peer pressure, for good.”

Healthy Buddies has lessons that focus on physical activity, healthy eating, self-esteem and body image. The instruction is given by 9- to 12-year-olds to 6- to 8-year-olds.

In this study, 19 schools were randomly assigned to use the Healthy Buddies curriculum or their regular instruction during the 2009-’10 school year. Over the course of the school year, the researchers looked at changes in waist size and body-mass index (BMI), as well as physical activity, heart fitness, self-image and knowledge about healthy living and diet.

They found that the waist size of children in the Healthy Buddies program dropped an average of half an inch compared with children in the regular curriculum. There was no difference in BMI — a measurement of fat based on height and weight — between the groups.

Based on responses to questionnaires, knowledge about healthy living, self-image and diet increased among kids in the Healthy Buddies program, compared with other children, the researchers said. No differences, however, were seen between the groups in terms of physical activity (steps taken per day) or heart and lung fitness, the researchers said.

This suggests that the reduction in waist size seen among the Healthy Buddies participants is attributable to dietary changes, the researchers said.

SOURCES: Jonathan McGavock, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn.; Feb. 10, 2014, JAMA Pediatrics, online

 

Tips for Selecting a Summer Day Camp

camp

Many of us still have snow on the ground, others are bracing for still another wintery blast, which makes it hard to think about selecting a summer day camp. But, if you have a child that needs to be in an out-of school program during the summer recess, now is the time to do research to find the camp that meets your child’s needs and interests and is within your budget.

The American Camp Association offers the following guides when considering a day camp:

Day camps offer experiences that are unique from resident camps. Because of this, there are specific points to consider when choosing a day camp.

  1. Does the American Camp Association accredit the camp? ACA has specific standards applicable only for day camps.
  2. What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving and other issues unique to working with young children?
  3. Is the price all-inclusive or are there extra charges for: · Transportation · swimming lessons · food service · horseback riding · group pictures · T-shirts · extended care · field trips
  1. If camp transportation is offered, where is the closest pick-up location?
  2. Does the camp have an “express bus” which transports children quickly?
  3. If before- and after-camp extended care is offered, who is with the children and what activities take place?
  4. Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?
  5. If the camp offers swimming, are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming?
  6. Are campers in a group with a counselor all day? Or, are campers free to go from one activity to another with appropriate supervision? In this case, whom would you talk to if you had a question or concern about your child?
  7. Is an open house offered before camp starts where you can meet your child’s counselor and van/bus driver?
  8. Are parents allowed to drop by for visits or is there a special parent visitation day?

Most frequently asked camp questions by children who will be attending day camp and how you might want to answer them:

What will I do all day? You’ll get to do so much — things like swimming, tennis, basketball, arts and crafts, softball or baseball, cooking, ceramics, gymnastics, soccer, dancing, football… the list goes on and on. There are also special events and entertainment.

Who will help me have fun at camp? How do they know how to care for me?
Counselors are selected because they love working with kids. They are trained before camp begins to help you have a good time, make new friends, and enjoy a variety of activities. Their job is to help you have fun, be safe, and know your limits.

Do I get to choose what I want to do?
Some camps schedule the entire day so you have an opportunity to try all the different things at camp. At many camps, you’ll get to select one or even more activities every day. You can ask about how the day is planned for you.

Who will be my friends?
You will make a lot of new friends at camp. Camp counselors will help you make friends the very first day you arrive at camp. It’s nice to have winter friends and summer friends.

What’s so great about camp?
Camp is a special place where grownups help kids feel good about themselves. You get to make choices on your own, but you always feel safe. Camp is like a little community, where everyone’s opinion is heard, and kids work and play together. There’s just no other place like camp, because camp is built just for kids!

Why shouldn’t I just stay home and do what I want?
You might think it will be more fun to just stay home and do nothing, but believe us, camp is nonstop fun! There are such a variety of activities that you never get bored. And you always have friends; everyone’s always home at camp!

What would a day at camp be like?
Camp is filled with different kinds of activities. The fun begins as soon as the bus picks you up. You will spend the day doing activities you really like. Of course you’ll stop for lunch – maybe a barbecue or a picnic. Day campers will go home on their buses in the late afternoon, and look forward to returning to camp the next day.

What if I’m not good at sports?
Camp staff will encourage you, and you will succeed at your level. You are never measured at anyone else’s ability level. Camp is not all sports, but a combination of athletics, the arts and hobbies.

What if I have a problem?
There are lots of people at camp, besides your counselors, to help take care of you, depending on what you need. There is usually a nurse, so if you don’t feel well they have a place where you can rest until you feel better. You can count on the grownups that are at camp to help you with any problem you may have.

Once you have answered these questions, visit ACA’s Camp Database to find a camp just right for your child. Parents may call ACA National Headquarters 800-428-CAMP8800-428-CAMP  for further information about specific camps or for the ACA section in their region. American Camp Association website…http://www.acacamps.org/.

 

 

Free via Skype