Concern is growing that students are carrying too much weight on their backs. Backpacks can cause neck, shoulder, and back discomfort if not selected and worn properly.
According to the U.S.Consumer Product Safety Comission, the number of strains, sprains, dislocations, and fractures from backpacks that were treated in hospital emergency rooms, physicians' offices, and clinics.
How heavy is too heavy?
It is recommended that backpacks weigh no more than 10-15 percent of you body weight and never more than 25 pounds.
|Person's Weight (lb.)||Maximum Backpack Weight (lb.)|
|200 or more||25|
Choosing the right backpack
When choosing the right backpack, look for one that is appropriate for the size of the user. In addition, look for some of the following features:
Wide, padded shoulder straps -- Non-padded straps dig into the shoulders causing upper back and shoulder pain. Eventually arms and hands will tingle and become weak due to nerve compression and a compromised circulatory system.
Two shoulder straps -- having only one strap can cause alignment problems in the spine.
Padded back -- padding on the part of the backpack that touches your pack should provide protection from any oddly-shaped objects inside.
Waist strap -- the waist strap can distribute the weight of a heavy load more evenly.
Multiple compartments -- having multiple compartments will distribute the weight more evenly.
Number of American university students reporting backpack-related pain and discomfort, according to a Boston University study.
Tips for safe backpack use
Wear both straps -- Use of one strap shifts the weight to one side, causing muscle spasms and low back pain. This is true even with one-strap backpacks that cross the body. By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed, and a well-aligned symmetrical posture is promoted. Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the body.
Distribute weight evenly -- Put the heavier items on the bottom and against the back to keep the weight off of your shoulders and to maintain neutral posture. The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back.
Take a load off -- Take the backpack off when you will be standing for a long period of time. Extended carrying time increases the pressure on your spine.