The Problem With Backpacks

Bridget Belden, Writer

Backpack: (1) a pack or knapsack, often of canvas or nylon, to be carried on one’s back, sometimes supported on a lightweight metal frame strapped to the body. (2) a piece of equipment designed to be used while being carried on the back. (definitions from Dictionary.com) Backpacks have been around for decades, you can’t imagine school without them, but what if we were better off without them?
According to ABC, scientists have conducted a study in the past two years about what the weight of backpacks is doing to your spine. At the end they discovered that backpacks can ‘wear and tear’ your joints as well as cause many devastating conditions to your back. ‘Wear and tear’ is when your joints start to wear themselves down too much and it starts to damage the protective layers of your joints (your cartilage) and if it gets really bad: your bone itself. It’s quite easy to assume that this is most likely a bad thing to have happen to your bones. The study also found that every pound your backpack weighs is (if you have your spine in a neutral position) worth 7.2 pounds each. While if you have your spine slouched then each pound becomes 11.6 pounds! Now, how does 1 pound amount to so much on your back?! Well, this is caused because of the fact that your spine is not entirely straight it actually has a curve to it. This curve in your spine makes the weight in your backpack affect your back through different points and causes this strain or makes your back compress in an unsafe way, where if your spine was entirely straight then the strain would probably be different.
Here are some ways you can keep your back a little bit safer:
Only bring the bare minimum to school, this way you only have what you need and are putting less strain on your back.
If you can, maybe try using backpacks with wheels, that way you’re not placing strain on your back at all.
Try checking your backpack everyday after school to take out the things you won’t need anymore, like trash, papers, and anything else.
Try to get a padded backpack with padded straps, this will help your backpack rest more comfortably on your back.
Keep your backpack on entirely, you may think it’s cool to go all one strapped but it won’t be cool when you have to be excused from sports in college because of chronic back pain. So keep it on both shoulders to share the weight evenly.
Keep heavier objects like text books, books, and computers more in the middle of your backpack.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if your backpack might be too heavy:
Are you finding it hard to put on your backpack?
Are you tripping and falling forward or almost falling forward because of the weight on your back?
Are your shoulders or back sore?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, maybe consider using the suggestions above and lighten up your load, or make it easier to carry.
So the question is, are backpacks more harmful than helpful? Should we even use them anymore?