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Lets Talk Health Q & A

Have a question you forgot to discuss at the doctor’s office or are too embarrassed to ask? The experts at Samaritan Health Services are here to help. Aug / Sept

Q: My kids are active in sports. Do you recommend having them drink sports drinks?

A: It’s tempting to offer a “healthy” sports drink to your children instead of soda or juices, but plain or flavored water without sugar or artificial sweeteners is still the preferred way to stay hydrated during most sports and exercise.

For a student athlete’s intense or prolonged exertion in a sport like soccer, basketball or long-distance running, a sports drink may be appropriate to help give the body a source of energy and restore electrolytes lost through sweat. Sports drinks contain added sweeteners and calories, so avoid drinking too many needlessly. Unless your child is performing at a high intensity for more than an hour, they do not need to use sports drinks.

Be very careful with energy drinks, too. Children should never drink them because high levels of caffeine can be dangerous to developing nervous and cardiovascular systems. Teens should be wary as the caffeine can cause anxiety, trouble sleeping and even heart problems.

— Lon McQuillan, MD, FAAP, Samaritan Pediatrics, Corvallis

Q: Each school year, my child’s backpack seems to get heavier. How can I help lighten the load?

A: It is painful to see our children hauling everything they may need in a day — books, papers, lunch, water bottle and much more — in their backpack. Picking the right backpack can help ease the load. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Make sure the backpack fits the child. It should not extend beyond the body on the sides, above the neck or below the waistline.

  • Straps should have plenty of padding, be adjustable and comfortable. Shaped straps may be more comfortable than straight straps.

  • A horizontal chest strap can help distribute the weight.

  • Use both straps when wearing a backpack, not slung over one shoulder, and adjust the fit so the load is carried as high and close to the back as possible.

  • Be selective about what goes in the bag.A loaded backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 15% of the child’s body weight.

A backpack that’s too heavy or worn incorrectly can contribute to back problems and reinforce bad posture. If your child reports tingling or numbness in the arms or general pain while wearing the backpack, look for a different bag with a better fit.

If a heavy bag is unavoidable and there is ongoing pain, a physical therapist or your child’s doctor can recommend gentle stretches for the arms, shoulders, neck and back to help with pain from carrying a heavy bag.

— Robert Long, DPT, Samaritan Rehabilitation Specialties - Lebanon


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Call Samaritan Health Services Find a Doctor line at 800-863-5241 to find a provider who is right for you.


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