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THE EXPERT: Homework is a heavy load these days. Many worry about the short-and long-term effects of those 20-plus pound backpacks that most elementary and high school kids schlep around. Lars Eric Larson ’86, a Burlington chiropractor, is among the many who worry and the few who is doing something about the threat to young people’s health. Larson is part of “Backpack Safety America,” a group working to reduce the weight of textbooks and backpacks. In the meantime, while we still live in the iron age of backpacks, he’s developed a presentation he takes to local schools to teach the importance of proper posture, lifting technique, and safer backpack use. In addition to his practice in Burlington, Larson’s career has included nearly 10 years and more than 500 shows working on the road as personal chiropractor for Phish, friends and classmates during his days at UVM.

THE QUESTION: There’s no getting around all the stuff my daughter totes back and forth to school. Short of hiring a Sherpa, what can I do to make it easier on her body?

THE ANSWER: First, says Larson, parents need to make sure kids get an appropriately sized backpack. Avoid the temptation to go cheap with a hand-me-down or that one you got for opening a checking account. “And don’t buy one that’s too big,” Larson says, “or they’ll just put even more in it.” Same as they would on a three-day backpacking trip, make sure your kids pack it properly. That means putting the heaviest items, e.g., the World Civ text, closest to the body. Pick it up with the respect that a weighty object demands — face it straight on and bend the knees. Before the kids head out the door, make sure they have both shoulder straps on, and if there’s a waist strap, use it for a healthier distribution of the weight load.