It’s that time of year when students and athletes of all ages are heading back to their respective schools and colleges. It’s an exciting time of discovering schedules, activities and friendships. It’s also a time when students consider which backpack they will use to carry their mountains of information-filled books in. It’s incredible that students’ backpacks continue to be as heavy as they are considering we are in a digital age.
In January 2012 the FCC chairman, Julie Genachowski and Educational Secretary Arne Duncan, recommended that states use their funds for electronic resources rather than printed books. There is an awareness that American students are having back injuries due to the weight of backpacks and their contents.
Did you know that the average backpack weight is 12 to 20 pounds? This is big news for students. The “safe weight” for backpacks is set at 10% of his or her body weight. That means that students who weigh 150 pounds should not have a backpack exceeding 15 pounds. When a student is carrying a backpack that exceeds the 10% limit, it causes them to bend forward or to arch their back to counteract the weight of the backpack pulling them backward. This compromised position compresses the spine and presses the vertebrae on the discs between them.
If you have a student who is heading back to school, consider purchasing a lightweight backpack. Find one with wide and padded shoulder straps over both shoulders (avoid the ones carried on one side of the shoulder or body). Backpacks with multiple compartments will help distribute the weight evenly.
If you have a student or student athlete who is struggling with back pain, call and book your appointment with our caring physicians from Ortho Sport & Spine Physicians. We treat athletes of all ages and skill levels. While at one of our locations in Atlanta and Savannah, we will help you find an effective, long-term solution to your student’s back pain.
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