by Brooke Smith
High schools across America are posing a health problem to students, due to extremely heavy backpacks. Filled with notebooks, binders and numerous textbooks the harsh weight is creating chronic neck, shoulder, and back pains to high school students.
Students of Bethel High School, CT, agree that the backpacks are too heavy. Rebecca Schadler, sophomore, says while rubbing her lower back, “ I don’t even carry a back pack anymore. It is too much weight on my back.” Weights of these bags today are driving students to not use them and resort to carrying them by hand. Though, it is a bigger hassle Rebecca says, “ Carrying them is less painful.”
Junior, Lauren Tiscia, says, “The weights of my book bag ruins my posture.” Megan Johnson, sophomore, says, “School puts too much stress on me, then they ask me to carry around all that weight on top of that.”
The transition from middle school to high school is hard enough, now throw in the heavy backpacks and problems occur. Shane Kenny, a freshman, adds, “ When I was in middle school my bag wasn’t so heavy because I could go to my locker more.” The switch for these freshmen makes school more difficult for them. Throw in 20 pounds to lug around and the students are not very happy. John Frank, freshman, says sarcastically, “I carry so many text books I practically sink into the ground.”
These heavy bags can pose serious health problems for students. The bags take a toll on the upper body of these high school students. The deltoids, trapeziums, and pectorals are constantly strained when carrying heavy book bags. The lower back is over worked as well. The spinae rectus takes the highest toll, usually causing great deals of pain when strained. Along with that, as the heavy bag weighs down, it is stretching front chest muscles because they are the muscles that are trying to pull the weight forward so that it does not pull your poster backwards.
The tremendous weight in the back pack cause students’ shoulder pains. Senior, Katelin Toth, says, “ Carrying all the stuff really hurts my shoulders after a while.”
Doctor Kyle True, a chiropractic physician in Chandler, Arizona, explains, “What is happening is the back packs are loaded with too much stuff.” Doctor True continues, “We are seeing children coming into our offices at much earlier ages experiencing back pain then in previous years.”
According to Dr. True the heavy bags can lead to pulled or strained muscles, and curved spines. “The back pack should be no more then ten percent of the child’s body weight,” says True.
Use of a well-constructed, balanced backpack is one answer to decreasing some of the muscle and bone stress of carrying schoolbooks and supplies. The likely switch to digital textbooks may also go far in helping students’ manage their loads.