Backpack safety: Is your backpack holding YOU back?


Photography by: Lauren Ayers

On average an Academy girl carries three notebooks, her iPad, and at least one textbook every day.

At Academy, we are all familiar with carrying a heavy load, but when does a backpack become too heavy? Back injuries have become common at AHN and backpacks may be a contributing factor.

Experts say that a person should not carry more than twenty percent of their own body weight. To put this in perspective, someone who weighs 120 pounds could only carry 24 pounds in their backpack without hurting themselves.

In order to prevent back injuries from carrying a heavy back pack, you should keep an eye for warning signs. If you notice tingling in your hands or arms while wearing your backpack, you should lighten the amount you are carrying. Some common injuries that come with heavy backpacks are pain in the back and neck and disfiguration in your spine. In additon to this, when you carry a heavy backpack, many times you lean forwards, causing your shoulders to become rounded over time and your upper back to curve. Heavy weight on your shoulders can also pull you backwards, causing the spine to compress unnaturally.

Unfortunately at Academy, backpacks are our only option as the stairs do not allow for roller backpacks. Although we still have a long way to go, Academy has already helped  reduce the weight in our backpacks by instituting  iPads that can replace some of the heavy text books we carry around all day.

Even though tote bags are cute, the best backpacks for your back have two padded straps, a padded back, and a tie at the waist. To help reduce discomfort, you should wear your backpack correctly, adjusting the straps close to the body.

According to Dr. Michael Wade Shrader, orthopedic surgeon, “Backpacks are designed to distribute the weight of load among some of the body’s strongest muscles.”

To help protect your back with your current backpack you can follow simple tricks. To distribute the weight more evenly, place heavier items low and towards the middle of bag. When picking up your backpack, be sure to bend at the knees and lift from the legs. If the load is too heavy on your back, remove some books and carry them in your hands to reduce the strain on your back. Also, It is recommended to go to your locker often and to only carry the necessary books.

Backpacks are an unavoidable factor at Academy and throughout high school,  but you can still be safe by taking precautions and avoid carrying burdening loads.