Heavy Backpacks Take a Toll on Students


Naomy Rivera Vega, NFA Red & White Reporter


(Illustration courtesy of Google Images)


Many students at NFA struggle with having to carry a heavy backpack all day, which can cause many physical effects on them. 

Carrying a heavy backpack, as reported by Mrs. Amy Tavares, the nurse supervisor in the medical center, “Can cause obvious fatigue, it can cause pain, I would just presume even spinal compression depending how heavy they are.” Having to carry a heavy backpack can also cause lower and upper back pain. 

Heavy backpacks can also strain a student’s neck and shoulders, and according to Mr. Chad Johnson, Head of the NFA Science Department and kinesiology teacher, “Even though those things sound bad the worst thing is, it can change a student’s posture”.  

Having a bad posture can affect just about every part of the body. It can cause chronic back pain which overtime leaves more and more of an impact on the back which is an extremely difficult cure. Having bad posture can also affect bones, muscles, ligaments and internal organs. This being said this bad posture can restrict blood circulation by making muscles and organs to compress restricting blood vessels impeding the flow of blood.

Johnson also notes that campus observers can see many students wearing their backpacks wrong, mostly slung over one of their shoulders, or they carry a handbag or purse instead of a backpack. 

A backpack is a better option than a shoulder or messenger bag because the weight of the backpack is evenly spread out across the body; it’s also important for a student to wear a backpack correctly cause wearing it slung over can make them lose their balance, and as stated by Mr.Johnson “A purse and a handbag not only is going to put all the weight on one side of you but it’s going to break. Backpacks are specifically designed to  carry those heavier loads and to distribute the weight on your backs.” 

So some things students can do to prevent injuries when carrying a heavy backpack is considering the backpacks structure when buying one. The backpack should be light, multipurpose and with multiple compartments to distribute the weight better. It should also have wide cushioned straps. 

Students should also lighten their backpack as much as possible by taking out the textbooks and notebooks that will not be needed on that day. Therapists and doctors suggest that people shouldn’t carry more than 10 to 20 percent of their weight in their backpacks. But some students carry more than that and don’t lighten their backpack because, as Johnson points out, students either feel too tired to reorganize the contents of their bag, or they worry about making a mistake in packing and removing the wrong materials from the bag, leaving them to attend a class without the necessary class materials.  

The weight of a heavy backpack can weigh people down, so doing yoga or stretches which elongate the body and make it leaner and more relaxed, are important for those who struggle with heavy backpacks. Mrs. Tavares stated “Stretch in different directions making you body relax and go longer vs anything contracting making you body tighter and smaller like lifting weights; it’s good for strength but it’s not really helping you stretch, stretching is relaxing your muscles.”