The annual back to school sales tax holiday starts Friday and runs through Sunday, and the number one items that parents will buy for their kids is a brand new backpack.
Dr. P.K. Grewal, a pain specialist at the San Antonio Orthopaedic Group, says the kind of backpack you get is critical, because the impact of backpacks on growing muscles and bones can be significant.
"You will want to get a backpack that has two shoulder straps," she said. "And not only two shoulder straps, but you want to make sure those shoulder straps are wide, and padded shoulder straps."
She says the size of the backpack should be carefully gauged depending on the child's size."As a general rule of thumb, the filled backpack should not weigh more than 10 to 15 percent of the child's weight."
Dr. Grewal says that means the backpack is not a school locker, and it should be carefully packed to make sure there is not too much weight. She says seeing the child 'hunched over' when walking to the bus is a good sign that the backpack is too heavy.
"Make sure that the child is carrying only the items that are needed that day for school, and leave the extra items at home or at school."
She says one thing that makes her cringe is to see a child using a 'one strap' backpack or carrying the backpack on only one shoulder.
"When children are wearing backpacks and they are using just one shoulder strap, it really affects their back, their neck, and their shoulders," she says.
Dr. Grewal says headache, tingling, and muscle spasms are common signs of a backpack that is too heavy or fitted poorly. She says that can lead to long term pain and complications.
"Make sure that the shoulder straps are tightened so the load sits close to the core of the child's back, and doesn't droop down below."
She says always instruct the child to remove the backpack when sitting down, be it in the bus or in the classroom.