Schools are back in full swing by mid September, which means students are starting to carry backpacks that seem to get heavier and heavier every year. Kids seem to get used to lugging around those heavy backpacks each year, but should they be carrying that much weight?
A study done by Consumer Reports in New York City found that elementary school backpacks could weigh anywhere from 5 to 30 pounds and got heavier the older the kids got. But how heavy is too heavy? Well, the Academy of Pediatrics suggests that a child’s backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10-20% of their body weight. For example, a student who weighs 50 pounds shouldn’t have a backpack that weighs more than 10 pounds.
So what happens if you carry a backpack that’s too heavy? The weight on your shoulders causes you to hunch your shoulders and slouch to allow other muscles to take some of the burden off your shoulders, which can lead to strained and sore muscles and a sore back. The best bet? Find a rolling backpack or find another way to take some of the load off your back and shoulders, either by carrying some materials or by making two trips. Or practice proper backpack wearing techniques by using both straps, keeping the backpack up higher on your back, and getting a backpack with wider straps.