In 1902 the U.S. Cavalry recommended that a horse never carry more than 20 percent of its weight into battle, and current studies confirm that the percentage puts the least strain on the animals heart, respiration, muscles and bones.
Use that rule of thumb for what you and your children carry, too.
Unfortunately, kids regularly tote backpacks that weigh 22 percent of their body weight or more. A lot of you throw portable computers over your shoulders, haul a weeks worth of veggies home from the farmers market or strap on a baby carrier to tote around a 30- to 40-pound child.
Plus, many of you double or triple up. A purse weighing 3 to 7 pounds shares a shoulder with a shopping bag overflowing with groceries and a gym bag with workout clothes.
Then theres schlepping 40-pound carry-on bags through airports. Ouch! Youre risking chronic lower back pain, shoulder (rotator cuff) injury, neck strain, headaches and poor posture. Kids can injure their spine in ways that may cause lifelong problems.
Heres how to make whatever youre toting safer:
1. Weigh backpacks and purses; lighten the load if theyre too heavy. Always use BOTH backpack shoulder straps. One-shoulder carrying amplifies the risk of lower-back and shoulder pain and restricts blood flow to the arm.
2. Get rolling! Computer cases, kids backpacks, carry-on luggage, shopping carts and gym bags come with a great invention called wheels.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of The Dr. Oz Show, and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.