Detriments of Heavy Backpacks


//PICTURED ABOVE:  Two kids head out for school while trying to carry their heavy backpacks.

Hockaday students tend to attempt carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, that being the pounds of books and homework they carry around in their backpacks.

Heavy backpacks can be seriously detrimental to the health of a busy high school student. Head Athletic Trainer Jeanne Olson said heavyweight on the back can cause neck pain, back problems and headaches. Olson said she knows the main reason girls come into her office with back pain.

“I think some girls here pack their backpack up, and may not need those books the night that they’re going home,” Olson said, “but they leave them in their backpack so they won’t have to go to their locker the next day.”

If you begin to experience back pain or any other symptoms, Olson recommends that you first take some items out of your backpack, ice the areas where you are experiencing pain and take some ibuprofen. Olson suggests that if you remove items from your backpack and then improve, you know your issues stem from your heavy load.

One way to prevent heavy backpacks from impacting your health is to completely take the weight off of your back. You can do this by getting rid of your regular backpack and deciding to get a rolling backpack.

Another way of lessening the risks to your health is to make sure you carry your backpack on both shoulders. By just carrying your backpack on one shoulder, you unevenly distribute the weight, which can create an unnatural curvature of the spine.

Junior Annie Zhao had to adjust her lifestyle due to heavy backpacks. Zhao used to carry a backpack every day, using only her right shoulder. She said now when she walks, the left side of her body stands taller than the right side.

Not only are Zhao’s shoulders unbalanced, approximately a year ago she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, causing her to have to use a rolling backpack.

Besides lessening the load of your backpack, Zhao advises while you are doing homework, do not lie on your stomach on the ground or on your bed. This is an unnatural position for your spine, which can lead to scoliosis and back pain, she said.

Olson advises bending your knees when you pick up your backpack rather than lifting it with straight legs. She also said your backpack should weigh no more than 12 to 18 pounds. If your load goes over this weight, consider what you have in your backpack and whether it is truly necessary.

Story by Lacy Green

Photo provided by Flickr user woodleywonderworks