Backpack Weight Concern for Students

By: Ashley Porter
By: Ashley Porter

Fifth grader Alyssa Emory, who weighs about 90 pounds, sometimes carries a backpack that's nearly a third of her weight.

"I've been having to come home and take naps because my back's been locking up and cramping really bad," said Emory.

"We really didn't realize how much she was going to be toting around on a regular basis," said her mother, Grace Emory.

Doctors recommend that, when you pack your backpack, leave the bulky items toward the front. Then, when you zip it up and put it on your shoulders, make sure to put it on both shoulders so you distribute the weight evenly.

"It's a growing problem," said physical therapist, Lindsey Byrd. "It (the backpack) should have a padded back on the backside. A waistband would really help to evenly distribute the load. Some kids get really creative in how they carry their backpacks and they'll even carry it on the front, but the front's not always better. The load of the backpack should never be any heavier than 15 percent."

Fifteen percent of Alyssa's weight would mean a 13.5 pound backpack, instead of 33 pounds.

"I kind of have to bend and make my back into sort of a table-like thing to go everywhere," said Alyssa.

"Coming home like that on a daily basis is just too much," said Grace.

If your child is having problems with a heavy backpack, physical therapists say talk to the school about possibly providing a set of books to keep in the classroom. You should also urge your children to let you know if they have any back pain.

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