Study: Heavy backpacks related to spine problems

Published: Aug. 5, 2010 at 9:34 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 8, 2010 at 9:20 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

TIFTON, GA (WALB) –Students have always complained about too much homework, but here's a more legitimate complaint you should hear as school starts back. Heavy books can take a toll on a student's back.

The University of California recently conducted this survey using MRI scans to show that a typical backpack load places a heavy compression on the discs of the spine and increases the curvature of the lower spine. A doctors we spoke with today says heavy backpacks could cause permanent damage.

It's time to go back to school again, and aside from the obvious heath issues like runny noses, Dr. Simmons expects to see more kids coming in with back problems, some caused by heavy backpacks. "We see kids complaining of back problems shoulder problems, we are seeing more Scoliosis in the teen age years," said Dr. Granville Simmons, Pediatrician.

Now, medical science has proven what Dr. Simmons has always expected. "Using MRIs they have actually determined that heavy back packs not only cause curvature but they also decrease the space between the discs and its pretty permanent," he said.

15-year old Katie Wallace has Scoliosis, which she thinks may have been caused from a heavy backpack load over the years. "I had two back packs before and the bottom would just fall out of it so I had to pick up all my books," she said.

But Dr. Simmons says he sees most of his cases in middle school age kids. "In school you have to carry that book bag all the way around and it does get heavy," said middle school student Noel Wallace.

She says she carries her backpack the proper way, but she cant say the same about her friends.

"They don't like it right up on them, they like it down so they can look cool," said Wallace.

But Doctors say the way you carry your backpack can play a big role in how your back feels.

"Even though it doesn't look cool, it will help your back problem if you keep it up, with both straps it wont hurt your back as much," said Wallace.

And the absolute worst way to carry your backpack is over one shoulder.

You should wear your backpack with the straps over both shoulders, and the pack itself should be lightweight and no larger than the child's back.

A backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 15 percent of the students body weight. Also if your backpack has a waist strap use that because it helps transfer the weight of the load.

The way you pack is also important. Put heaviest items in first so they're carried low and close to the body. Then fill compartments so the weight is evenly distributed and pack sharp bulky objects so they don't touch the back.

©2010 WALB News. All rights reserved.   Feedback