By Sean Streicher

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With kids carrying things like laptops and books to school, their backpacks could be heavier than you might think.

As kids head back to school their backpacks could be loaded down with more than ever, put them at a higher risk of back pain.

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“We do know that improper use of backpacks can lead to joint pain, muscle aches and poor posture,” said Dr. Emeka Nwodim with The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics.

When it comes to backpack problems, parents need to be aware, and listen to their children, he said.

“Some common sense, some practicality. Pay attention to your child lifting up their backpack, carrying the backpack and just see how uncomfortable they might be,” Nwodim said. “Definitely have an ear out for if they’re complaining about it, and again, if it’s persistent definitely take it seriously.”

But just how heavy is too heavy?

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“The general consensus is that the backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of your child’s weight,” Nwodim said.

With the addition of laptops and electronic devices, that 10 percent is reached quickly, so Nwodim recommends urging kids to utilize their lockers to minimize how much they have to carry. He also said to make sure they’re carrying the back correctly, using both straps.

“Make sure that it’s nice and tight and snug against your back. Also notice that the heaviest items should be at the lowest portion of the backpack and to the center,” Nwodim said.

If your child complains of persistent back pain, numbness, or tingling in their arms and legs, you should contact their doctor.

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Nwodim also recommends, if you can, to get two sets of books: One for school and one for home so your child doesn’t have to carry them back and forth.

Sean Streicher