The Effect of Heavy Backpacks on StudentsIn the future, we may not have textbooks, but for now, heavy backpacks filled with textbooks are the norm. But studies have shown that this can be a health hazard.
By: Eddy Urena, Sibley Scribe
It seems like students have more and more to carry home in their backpacks. We have books for math, literature, foreign language, history, etc., and these books are not getting smaller. But what it the effect of these heavy backpacks on young people’s back and shoulders?
Most professionals will say that this can be a long-term problem if it is not adjusted. A study showed that in 2002, more than 21,000 heavy injuries related to backpacks were treated. That shows a good amount of students suffer from the weight of their backpacks due to a large amount of books. Muscle and ligament problems have also been occurring due to excessive amounts of weight in backpacks of students. Studies conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association in 2007 indicate that in addition to just having the heavy weight of a backpack, the way it is carried can have an effect on the student’s muscle development too. Often, the main problem is carrying the bag too low and keeping the straps too long. This can throw off balance and alter posture. With the students being stressed because of tension and stress on the shoulders and backs, students have also been less productive.
There are some alternatives to carrying the burden of a heavy backpack. One of the alternatives is CD’s that can be given to students that contain the same content as the book. Another alternative is using a classroom set of books in class, instead of bringing them back and forth between class and home. Now, some textbooks are on the internet and can be viewed by entering a username and password provided by the publisher. These alternatives are much lighter and better for the physical well being of the students.
However, if there is no other option to carrying a heavy backpack, there are some tips to keep in mind. It’s best to wear both straps instead of just one. The backpack should rest in the middle of your back, not the bottom. Backpacks should weigh less than 15% of body weight of the student carrying them, and the heaviest items should be packed closest to the back.
We will probably get past the textbook model someday, but for now, it’s best to deal with what we have.
Harvard Health Publications. http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0104a.html
Nashville Medical News. http://nashville.medicalnewsinc.com