Endless amounts of homework and constant all-nighters cause high school students to feel as if the weight of the world is on their shoulders.
The feeling also arises from the bulky binders, notebooks, agendas, folders, textbooks, pencils and lunch boxes high schoolers carry every day from class to class. “At the end of the day I feel like my shoulders are on fire and I have really slouchy posture, it takes a few hours for me to recover,” junior Nastaran Moghimi said.
The pieces of fabric sewn together are seemingly harmless, but an overweight backpack can cause serious health problems in the long run. According to the New York Times, heavy backpacks can lead to chronic back pain and possible orthopedic damage. Students’ bodies compensate for the extra weight of the backpack by hunching forward or arching back, which causes the spine to compress and the vertebrate to press between the discs. “Over time this can cause the shoulders to become rounded and the upper back to become curved…there’s a chance of developing shoulder, neck, and back pain,” according to KidsHealth.
As a result of the extra weight, students can also develop poor posture. According to Harvard Medical School, poor posture can result in a loss of strength and flexibility, causing people to become vulnerable to injury. It is important to note that backpacks are not the only reason for poor posture. Students try to adjust their posture when sitting or standing for a long time, which in turn ruins their natural alignment and leads to muscle strain and fatigue. “I have bad posture, which has affected how I skate aesthetically, but I think it’s honestly more because of the amount of time I spend in a desk chair doing homework than my backpack,” junior Isabella Helgeson said.
At the beginning of the school year, especially throughout the first couple of days, students receive little to no paperwork from teachers, which keeps their backpacks light. As the semester progresses, backpacks begin to fill with numerous packets and textbooks. Students of all grades have to face the challenge of lugging their bags throughout the day. “Towards the end of the semester, my backpack gets heavy from hundreds of worksheets, homework and notes, sometimes my shoulders can get stiff and uncomfortable,” junior Jacob Kaplan-Davis said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics determined in a study from the Moore Chiropractic Wellness Centre and National University in Redding, CA, that students’ backpacks should not exceed 10 percent of their body weight. Juniors Faraz Ahmed, Mahinsa Bambarende-Hewage, Isabella Helgeson, Jacob Kaplan-Davis, Nastaran Moghimi and senior Fatima Ahmed weighed their backpacks to determine whether they should be concerned. The backpacks ranged from 11-15 pounds, which when compared to their ranges in body weight, fit the 10 percent for 4 of the students stated, but exceeded 10 percent for 2 of them. “My backpack is light compared to a number of my friends,’ and it’s because I make sure it has only the necessary things I need,” Faraz Ahmed said.
Backpacks are essential for students at this school, convenient for carrying a load of textbooks home without having to store them in a locker or holding them in one’s arms. Nevertheless, students should reduce the weight of their bags if they experience constant shoulder or back pain by bringing only the things needed for class and leaving other things at home, cleaning them out regularly or carrying the heavy water bottle or lunch bag in their hands.