The Bangor Daily News recently noted the problem of heavy backpacks that students are increasingly being required to carry and the problems they inflict on the spines and backs of children. Add in text books, note books, gym supplies, and various other accruements now required to go to school, and we are expecting our young children to carry around a burden that would have astonished a Roman legionary.
To be sure some school districts are trying to alleviate the burden, such as downloading text books to laptops and tablets. But too many still require the dead tree books, which is causing back injury and chronic pain for young children.
The American Chiropractic Association has offered a number of suggestions for alleviating the burden.
1. A school backpack should only weigh between five to ten percent of the student’s body weight.
2. The school backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waist.
3. Make sure that both shoulder straps are worn and that they are wide, padded, and adjustable.
4. The student should try to carry only those materials that he or she needs at one time. Try to see if the school will allow the student to leave the heaviest text books at school and only be required to take lighter handouts and workbooks.
5. Consider using a rollerpack or a backpack with wheels, especially for students who are physically incapable of wearing a backpack. Unfortunately many schools have banned the uses of these because they tend to clutter halls and cause a tripping hazard.
The ACA’s advice on these matters is echoed by the National Safety Council and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
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