It’s almost the time of year when green leaves turn fiery, and days get shorter. Soon the roads will be peppered with the surest sign of summer’s end: school buses. As students prepare to re-enter the classroom — some for the first time in a long time — and families shop for back-to-school supplies, the RVNAhealth Rehabilitation and Wellness Center has tips on how to help kids avoid discomfort and potential injury by considering an oft-overlooked culprit: the backpack.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that kids’ full backpack weight should fall between 10-20% of total body weight and one study revealed that the average high schooler’s backpack weighed in at nearly 19lbs. That’s a lot of weight for young people to carry around. Sarah Triano, OTR/L, RVNAhealth Occupational Therapist, shared the following tips to prevent backpack injuries:
Buy the Right Size
The backpack should not exceed the length of a child’s back. If it falls more than 3” below the child’s waist with the straps secured comfortably, it is too large
Consider the Straps
Straps should fit snugly around the shoulders without a large gap; Both straps should be used to balance the weight evenly across the back and chest; and thicker straps are preferable to thin which can cause circulation problems and extremity tingling/numbness
Lift With the Legs
When picking up the backpack up from the floor, bend at the knees and avoid bending at the waist which stresses back, shoulder, and neck muscles
“Wearing a backpack inappropriately won’t necessarily have an impact straight away,” says Triano, “but it will lead to a build-up of postural strain that may result in injury weeks, months, or even years down the road. That’s why proper usage, plus keeping the weight to a minimum, is important.”
Should injury develop, Triano recommends early intervention as the best course of action. “Without proper treatment, a small strain can quickly become a more complicated situation.” she notes.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with an RVNAhealth Rehabilitation therapist, call (203) 438-7862 or visit https://rvnahealth.org/services/get-well/rehabilitation-center/
And now for all you history buffs — the origin of the current-day backpack:
A marriage proposal is largely responsible for the modern-day nylon, double-strap, zipped accessory seen at bus stops around the country. Murray Pletz and Skip Yowell, cofounders of a 1960’s, Seattle-based, outdoor gear company, re-developed a pack concept created by Gerry Cunningham of Gerry Outdoors, for a nylon daypack designed for skiers and hikers but neither knew how to sew. Pletz’s girlfriend, Jan Lewis, an unemployed teacher, owned a sewing machine and Pletz offered her more than a partnership in the company if she came onboard. If she accepted Pletz’s marriage proposal, the company would bear her name. In 1969, JanSport was born. Over the next two decades companies like LL Bean joined the competition and by the late 1980s nearly every kid in America sported a backpack for schoolbooks and supplies.
While we’re on the topic of school, read up on Back to School Fuel and how to keep those daily lunches healthy — and interesting.
August 4 2021: In just over three months time, Andrea McGowan will be standing on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island, about to embark on one of life’s fascinating journeys: the 26.2-mile New York City Marathon. Between now and then, Andrea will increase her weekly running mileage; conquer distances she has never approached before; and will log hundred of miles on the roads. Andrea is doing the race not only for personal challenge and fun, but to raise funds for Girls on the Run NYC, a not-for-profit organization with a mission near and dear to her heart.
To get to the NYC Marathon starting line feeling her best, it’s Andrea’s job to stay healthy and strong, which is exactly what brought her to RVNAhealth on a recent weekday evening. Andrea came for a Running Evaluation with RVNAhealth physical therapist, Kate Campbell, DPT.
“I’m so excited to be training for and running the NYC Marathon,” says McGowan. “I feel great right now, and I want to keep it that way. I’ve had shin splints, occasional Achilles tendinitis, and some toe pain in the past, and I want to keep those at bay, so I can enjoy my increased fitness, and relish the race experience.”
“Training for a marathon — or any race for that matter, “says Campbell, “is a true investment of time, energy, and emotion. You want to stand on that starting line confident, strong, and ready to achieve your goal. It’s no fun to race injured or tentative. Our Running Evaluation is an intensive assessment that helps you understand your strengths and vulnerabilities. Andrea is smart to be doing this proactively, so nothing will sideline her training or compromise her race.”
The 90-minute evaluation includes video analysis of running mechanics; strength assessment of muscles related to proper mechanics and injury prevention; flexibility assessment; a foot and shoe analysis; and an individualized home exercise program based on the evaluation results and aligned with personal goals.
Meet Andrea McGowan
Q: How many years have you been running?
A: I have been running for about 10 years, but have competed in other sports my whole life.
Q: What did you learn in your Running Evaluation with Kate?
A: I learned so much about my stride; where I should be striking the ground; where my feet should land with regard to my body, and much more! I also learned some great exercises that can help me prevent injuries.
Q: When did it first occur to you that you wanted to run a marathon?
A: After I did my first half-marathon in 2017 (Fairfield Faxon), I think it ignited the idea! I like to push myself and having a goal to work toward really helps my mental health while improving my workouts! I decided to take a gap year before I start medical school in 2022, so now feels like the perfect time!
Q: Do you know what you’ll be focusing on in medical school?
A: I’m interested in working in gastroenterology or women’s health! I truly haven’t decided, but I hope to do research and practice clinically. (By the way, Andrea is going to medical school at the University of Michigan. Go Andrea!)
Q: How is training going?
A: Training is going well! I look forward to my workouts after I finish my work day. I have been following a training plan that was recommended to me by a few other runners. I am trying to be super intentional with my workouts and also with my recovery. I am increasing my mileage gradually each week.
Q: Do you think you’ll be a multi-marathoner, or ‘retire’ after NYC and move on to other pursuits?
A: I can definitely see myself catching the marathon bug because I like working toward goals! I think it will be a matter of how this one goes and how much time I have in the future.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about Girls on the Run (GOTR)?
A: Absolutely! Girls on the Run NYC is a nonprofit organization that empowers young girls through a transformative running-based curriculum. The program focuses on building skills surrounding connection, confidence, self-esteem, and goal-setting all with the overarching goal of helping girls recognize their limitless potential! I am so excited to be part of the GOTR NYC Marathon team. In today’s world, girls are constantly greeted with the idea that they are not enough and that they need to change themselves in millions of ways to meet societal ideals. I love that GOTR works to challenge those beliefs and empower girls to be their authentic selves.
It’s not everyday someone writes a ❤️ poem for you!
Nick Wolf of Danbury, CT received his Covid vaccine with RVNAhealth earlier this year. He was so impressed with RVNAhealth’s vaccine program, nurses, and staff that he penned An Ode to RVNAhealth!
Nick is seen here with RVNAhealth’s BeWELL Program Coordinator, Stephanie Collins, who was and still is key to helping get our communities throughout Connecticut vaccinated.
An Ode to RVNAhealth
I got my shots nine miles from home;
That’s really not that far.
And were the crew well-organized?
I say they were, and “R.”
The people whom I dealt with there,
They did all right by me.
And would I recommend them now?
Do geese fly by in a “V”?
To rate the whole experience,
I’d give a “9” or “10.”
Were there unpleasant side effects?
I checked the box marked “N.”
But now it’s time to wrap things up.
In conclusion, let me say
That if I were a teacher,
I would give this group an “A.”
~ Nick Wolf