Health Corner | September 2017

Wide, Weighty Load

Your child’s backpack is probably heavier than you think 



As the school year kicks off with that new backpack full of school supplies, now is the time to do a safety check on your child’s back.

“Many students carry too much weight on their backs, opting to skip their lockers between classes and stuff all their books in their backpack,” said Joshua Meier, M.D., orthopedic surgeon with Norton Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville. “This not only can lead to pain and discomfort but also long-term injury.”

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends students carry no more than 15 to 20 percent of their body weight in their backpack.


Child’s weight                 Backpack weight should not exceed

75 pounds                                               15 pounds

90 pounds                                               18 pounds

115 pounds                                             23 pounds

125 pounds                                             25 pounds

150 pounds                                             30 pounds

Other tips to keep your child standing tall:

Double up: Slinging a backpack over just one shoulder can cause tremendous neck and shoulder aches and pains. Encourage your child to double up and put a strap over each shoulder. Doing so evenly distributes the weight of the backpack and promotes better posture and fewer back injuries.

Create a snug fit: Students also like to wear their backpacks low. This creates pull on the back and, often, the child will try to overcompensate by arching the back or leaning forward. Tighten up the straps so the backpack fits snug against your child’s body and rests in the middle of the back.

Look for thick straps: Backpack straps should be wide and padded with foam to provide cushion and added support for the shoulders. Tight, narrow straps can dig into the shoulders and pinch nerves or interfere with circulation, especially when the backpack is weighted down.

“Take the time to talk to your child about the proper way to carry a backpack,” Dr. Meier said. “Doing so will help protect their back now and promote good back health in the future.”

What Aerobic Exercise Should I Be Doing?

Which is the best workout? A sports medicine specialist weighs in. 


Does your workout have you at a crossroads? 

You are not alone when it comes to deciding what aerobic exercise is best for you to incorporate into your workout routine.

We reached out to a sports medicine specialist to answer some of your questions.

“All aerobic exercises have pros and cons,” said Robin G. Curry, M.D., nonsurgical orthopedic and sports medicine specialist with Norton Orthopedic Specialists. “Aerobic machines like the elliptical, bike or rowing machine provide a much lower impact than the treadmill but still offer a full body workout — but they can be less effective at building bone d ensity.”

Treadmills, on the other hand, are great for bone density but are higher impact, which can lead to joint pain, according to Dr. Curry. Regardless of which you choose, you also have to incorporate body-weight resistance exercises or strength training into your workouts, both of which can help with bone density.

If you’re trying to drop a few pounds, Dr. Curry said you can’t go wrong incorporating both cardio (aerobic) and strength training into your workout.

“Everyone’s body reacts to various types of exercise differently, so learn what works best for you,” she said. “I recommend alternating between machines and weighted exercises, starting slow and gradually building up over time. Don’t be afraid to incorporate some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts in as well. HITTs have been shown to help with both weight loss and building endurance.”

Getting back into exercising or trying it for the first time?

“For someone just starting out, the treadmill or bike may be less complicated and more user-friendly,” Dr. Curry said, “then add in the elliptical and rowing machine as you get comfortable and want to try new exercises. Do a variety of exercises to not only help with muscle tone but also with bone density.”

Regardless of which option you choose, Dr. Curry offers this advice:

“The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week and strength training two times per week,” she said

Do you want to increase your endurance and take your exercise routine to a higher level? Norton Sports Health can help you train and condition properly to avoid injuries. Download free running or cycling training tips at

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