23 Aug Are Backpacks good for you? Get a load of this… A message for Parents and the PTA
Dear Vitality Man,
My child wears a backpack loaded with 20-30 pounds of books and supplies every day for school. I’m concerned, because she only weighs less than a hundred pounds. Are backpacks good for you?
There are three main reasons (ways) that wearing a backpack can have negative effects on your child, and three positive reasons. Then I’ll give you my opinion.
- A backpack reinforces poor posture when your child is NOT wearing the backpack. Poor posture can lead to lower self-esteem and a long list of problems you never want your child to have.
- A backpack inhibits normal movement and coordination, which may affect learning as well as increase risk of injury to joints.
- A backpack distorts the structure of the entire body; puts compressive pressure on the rib cage, collapsing the upper body and neck, puts extra work on the low back muscles to keep your child upright, inhibiting lung expansion, which decreases oxygen to the blood and decreases stamina.
PS: If you or someone you know wears a backpack on your commute to work, these same considerations apply for adults.
- Your child is more likely to be prepared with their books and supplies ready to use.
- Her books are less likely to be lost or stolen.
- Her hands are free to use even though she has her books to carry.
As you consider the pros and cons of backpack wearing, here is my opinion:
Backpacks by themselves are not bad at all. Backpacks are cool and useful! However, if we wear them at the expense of our good health, with no way for our body to recover from the downsides of having a heavy weight in an unnatural position—That is not good. The best way to eliminate the backpack problem is to minimize its weight as much as possible.
Here are some suggestions. Use what works; modify what doesn’t quite match.
- If your child bikes to school, get a rack or basket for the bike and tie the pack to the rack with some strong bunjee cords, instead of having her wear the load during transit.
- At school, if lockers are permitted, get one book out at a time for each class and exchange it at class breaks.
- If she has a different schedule each day, plan for bringing only the books she needs for the day.
- Use the study period to do the homework for the classes with the heaviest textbooks, then leave them at school.
Finally, in addition to this, you can also get your child into yoga or other exercises your child can do to counteract the negative effects of wearing a heavily loaded pack on his/her back.