According to a recent study, some children carry backpacks that weigh more than 15 percent of their own body weight. That’s equivalent to a 180-lb adult carrying upwards of 27 pounds on his or her back.
That’s why one in four students reported back pain over the past year, and 70 percent of them were diagnosed with curvature of the spine, known as scoliosis. Many of the students were found to have involuntary muscle contractions.
Girls and older students have it worst, the study found, and students with heavy backpacks were half again as likely to have two weeks or more of back pain than students with lighter bags.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends getting a bag with a padded back and two wide, padded shoulder straps. The straps should be tightened as much as is comfortable, and students should never use just one strap alone.
Parents should encourage their children to jettison large unneeded items, and to let them know about back pain, especially if it goes on for a while. If possible, students should use their lockers during the day.
In addition, students and other people prone to back pain should avoid standing for long periods, sit with their knees a little above their hips and lift heavy items with their knees.