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May 1, 2007, 2007 [Volume 1, Issue 9]

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The Backpack Dilemma

You can't tell your children not to bring their textbooks to and from school – but what if the consequence of a consistently overloaded backpack is neck, back and shoulder pain? Chiropractors, pediatricians and orthopedic surgeons all agree that backpacks are a problem for a child's spine.

While health care professionals do not agree on the exact weight, the consensus is that a child burdened with more than 10 percent of their body weight risks back and neck pain. The majority of health care professionals agree that a child carrying 15 percent or more of their body weight can suffer from severe back, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and other spinal discomfort; not to mention aggravate pre-existing spinal conditions such as scoliosis.

The first priority in purchasing a backpack is to select function over fashion. Here are a few criteria to consider when choosing a better functional backpack:

  1. The backpack should fit properly (not too long or too short).

  2. It should have wide, padded, adjustable straps (for proper positioning on the back).

  3. A backpack with a hip strap or lumbar pillow provides additional protection. The hip strap, when used, can distribute a portion of the weight to the hips, easing the load on the spine and shoulders. The use of a lumbar pillow will provide the necessary back support to the lumbar region, where the greatest portion of weight is being carried.

A backpack stuffed with that "extra" book, binder, electronic device or water bottle can easily add an unnecessary 10 pounds. Parents need to show their children the importance of loading and carrying their backpacks appropriately. The heaviest items should rest against the back, which means loading them first and attempting to distribute the weight evenly.

So, with the current school year coming to a close and a new one just months away, remember that when it comes to choosing a backpack, think function before fashion. Your child's health depends on it.

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Seven Foods for a Flawless Complexion

Let's face it: Aging is a fact of life. While you can always try harsh chemical peels and a host of costly – and risky – plastic surgeries to revitalize your skin, look no farther than your local market to find effective, natural ways to achieve a flawless complexion. Here are just a few of the best foods the Chinese associate with spotless, radiant skin:

Mulberry Fruit (Chinese name: Sang Shen Zi). These fruits of the mulberry tree contain beneficial antioxidants, help overcome weakness, and brighten a withered-looking complexion. They also are beneficial for clearing dark spots from the face.

Ginkgo Nut (Chinese name: Bai Gou). The health benefits of ginkgo leaf extract have been widely discovered in the West. Much modern research indicates that the antioxidant plant chemicals in ginkgo benefit blood flow and might even slow memory loss. Not many are aware that in Chinese medicine, the nut of the ginkgo tree is more often used medicinally. Ginkgo nut is used herbally, but the whole nuts themselves, often roasted, are a traditional Chinese food that nourishes lung energy and calm wheezing. The best way to use ginkgo to clear the complexion is topical application.

Winter Melon (Chinese name: Dong Gua). This gourd vegetable and its seeds are very popular in China, especially as a soup. It benefits the heart, detoxifies the body and beautifies the skin. Whether eaten as a food or taken in herb form, winter melon can improve a variety of complexion problems.

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Finding the Right Fit

Experts estimate that at least 75% of American women are wearing the wrong bra. According to a national survey, approximately 59% of U.S. women who wear a bra claim it causes them back, shoulder or neck pain. While most women (87%) agree that comfort is key when choosing a bra, about three in five (59%) feel that their bra doesn't fit right, and approximately two in five (41%) say their bra does not provide proper support.

Here are some tips for finding the right bra:

  • Get Fitted – Most potential problems can be averted by getting a professional fitting. The experts can help you find a bra with the proper cup and band size, straps that don't dig into the skin or fall off, and the most flattering styles for your body type.

  • Hit the Dressing Room – You will probably have to shop around and try a variety of styles, fabrics and manufacturers before you find the right bra for you. Be prepared to spend some quality time in the dressing room.

  • Update Your Wardrobe – A woman's body changes repeatedly over time. From weight loss or gain to pregnancy, menopause and aging, even small changes will require a new bra. Moreover, bras lose their support over time, so it is essential that women invest in new ones every few months.

Like every other item in your wardrobe, finding the right bra requires research and dedication. But it is time well-spent, so make the investment in yourself. You'll feel like a new woman.

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