UCAS news

Lighten the Load

Crowds of people fill the hallway with each ring of the bell. Each is carrying a backpack, a bag that may be heavier than the recommended weight. Students at UCAS have many classes, and with each class they have a certain amount of required supplies. Notebooks, writing utensils, textbooks, and binder are the usual arsenal. But, is it necessary to have seven binders, a couple folders, and a couple packs of pencils?

Scientists say that students should be carrying backpacks that are roughly 10 to 15 percent of your body weight. “That means a 100-pound child should take no more than 10 pounds of books on their back (http://www.kidsgrowth.com/resources/articledetail.cfm?id=216).However, it seems to be a rule students are willing to bend, time and time again. Students walk these hallways with backpacks that keep getting larger and larger.. For example, Arianna Lone, a sophomore, says “it is hurting my back, it’s causing my spine to bend, causing my health to decrease”. The “it” she is talking about would be her 25-pound backpack, which is 22 percent of her body weight. It’s only seven percent more than what the doctors recommend, but it makes a huge difference.

Experts also say that when you wear a too heavy backpack, you lean to accommodate the weight. Hence, why teenagers are often slouching as they walk. Not wearing your backpack correctly, for example, slinging it over one shoulder when it has two straps, can cause you to lean to compensate for all the weight it has is on one side. However, for backpacks meant to be placed on one shoulder should be positioned across your body to distribute the weight evenly.

According to osteopathic family physician, Dr. Rob Danoff, signs that your bag is too heavy include, “…grunt[ing] when putting on or taking off the backpack, have red marks on their shoulders from the straps, or if they complain that their shoulders, arms or fingers are ‘falling asleep,'”. If you are experiencing any of these, it would be best to find a new backpack that won’t have these effects on your back. Ellen Warren from the Chicago Tribune said that students can prevent this by;

“Buy[ing] smallest possible bag that will hold your stuff

Choose fabric or paper lunch bag, not metal lunchbox

Shop for heavy padding on straps; waist straps, too, for heaviest days

Check empty weight before purchase; it will only get heavier

Buy folders instead of heavy binders…

Use both shoulder straps, not just one

Put heaviest objects at bottom and closest to your back

Adjust straps, so load sits low on the back, 1 to 2 inches above the waist.”

(Article linked here)

Another way that students can lighten up is by only carrying what they need each day. Also, it would help if the student took half of what they usually do. If you still have a lot of stuff even after you empty your backpack, you should start putting some items in your locker. Yes, we know the hallways are crowded, and you don’t want to go all the way to your locker while fighting the crowds of people, but your backpack can seriously hurt your back. In all, if your backpack is causing you pain consider making some changes.

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