Carrying the Weight

Jennifer Melgey, Staff Writer

The scene sounds all too common: teenage backs hunched over from the excessive weight they carry in their backpacks.  It is not uncommon to find heavy textbooks, over-filled binders and other school utensils packed in.  But is all this weight even healthy for the average teenage body?

According to the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent medicine, the average backpack load that students carry is too heavy for them.  It seems common for teenagers to be complaining about shoulder and back pain these days.

“My backpack is way too heavy with all the materials they make us carry around,” Bryeantae Gyton, freshman, complains.

Injuries, believe it or not, can also be a result of an overload of weight on the back.  They do not cause scoliosis, although this used to be widely believed by many people.  Backpacks that are worn with uneven straps can cause balance issues.  CBS News reports that problems can also include strains, muscle spasms, tingling or numbness in the arms, and even red marks.

It is common for the backpack load to be heavier than what is recommended.  “I recommend for people that they should buy lightweight backpacks, regardless of their age,” Dr. Michael Twidell, director of the pediatric orthopedic center at Baptist Children’s Hospital, said.

“I do not have a locker.  I carry two to three books around with 2 big binders throughout the whole school day,” Erica Flannagan, a freshman, addresses.  Even though Wellington High School allows for students to have lockers if they pay six dollars, not all students have them.  Teenagers with lockers still have to carry the material they need home for homework.  Sometimes, they can’t even find the time to drop off materials in the locker because they rush from class to class to avoid being late.

Even though backpacks continue to literally weigh teenagers down, there may be a solution to this problem.  Lengthening the time of the bell to have extra time to go to a locker is highly unlikely.  Rolling a backpack is an alternative, but not very practical with the amount of students at high school these days.  They are very easy to trip over.  So to lighten the load, it is advised to take out unnecessary materials, keep textbooks you don’t need in your locker or at home, and put papers in a small folder, instead of large binders.

“Catch this problem early before it starts a problem to your health,” advised Donna Geleroff, a physical therapist.  This is exactly what students should choose to follow.