The Ill Effects of Heavy School Backpacks & A Few Solutions To The Problem


In the morning, if you stay near a school or are near a school, seeing children loaded down with heavy book bags is a common sight. It is always disconcerting to see children tote bags heavier than their frames can manage and it’s especially distressing to see children as young as seven and six almost bent double by the weight of their backpacks.

Teachers and parents world over have debates about heavy backpacks. However, there never seems to be any conclusion or even solution to the1 (287) problem.

It is time we realise the ill-effects of carrying heavy backpacks and do something about it!

1. Damage to Muscles

Carrying heavy backpacks has a long term negative effect on children’s health. Heavy backpacks can strain the back and stomach muscles when worn improperly, like being slung high up on the shoulders. And when worn loosely, i.e when the base of the bag seems to hit the back of the child’s things, the weight of the bag cause damage to the lower back muscles.

2. Chronic Neck Pain

Heavy backpacks when worn over one shoulder strain the neck muscles and the upper back muscles as well, causing constant neck pain andshutterstock_75098758 causing the child to lean to one side.  This in turn becomes poor posture and causes damage to the nerves and as well as the skeleton!

3. Damage to Blood Vessels

The straps of the heavy backpacks can put pressure on blood vessels and on the nerves in the neck and shoulder of the child, causing pain to the hands, arms and neck. What happens when pressure is placed on the blood vessels and nerves? Well for one, the child will begin experiencing feelings of numbness in the areas where the nerves and the blood vessels are experiencing pressure.

shutterstock_155470307-[Converted]4. Poor Lung Functioning

Carrying heavy backpacks causes children to lean forward in order to balance the weight of the bag. This in turn leads to bad posture. This bad posture also causes poor lung functioning and breathing problems. In fact, children who carry bags heavier that 10% of their body weight are usually found to have lung problems.

5. Fatigue and Poor Bone Development

shutterstock_97415264Carrying heavy backpacks can sap a child’s strength immensely. And this leads to them being continuously tired, which in turn affects their ability to study, learn and play. Heavy backpacks also damages the growth centers of the bones and leads to abnormality in bone growth in children.

6. Accidental injuries

Did you know that a heavy backpack can sometimes skew a child’s sense of balance and have them tip over because of the weight? Heavy backpacks not only can cause injury to the children who are carrying them but also to other children who might be hit by the backpacks in crowded situations.

shutterstock_87215014Ways To Deal With The Problem

1. Ask your students/children to wear their backpacks securely over both the shoulders, neither too high or too low. This keeps the backpack from affecting their posture.

2. Ensure that students/children backpacks that end above the waist, have well-padded shoulder straps.

3. If it is possible, then students should be able to leave some books at school, for instance, books that they will not need for that day’s homework.

4. The school needs to have a discussion with regards to having lockers at school. Lockers will act as a repository for books and any other items that students/children require for extracurricular activities. With lockers, children will only have to carry the books they need home.

Do you have any suggestions about how a student’s backpack can be lightened? Share your opinions with us in the comments section below!


About Author

Rohia is an aspiring writer, who once upon a time used to be an engineer, until she decided to follow her true passion, writing. She enjoys playing piano, listening to music and singing too.


  1. Abbas Khaleel SM on

    Once again good article. Its time for both schools and parents to consider and think about this little student’s health.
    Locker idea is good to store some books at school.

      • Nowadays some scls provide locker facilyty even than most of the time bag weight remains same as HW’s in all subjects/ weekend revisions /conts holidays &so on…..My suggestion is …books &notebooks should be designed for week/month wise syllabus..Thin..why child should carry 200 pages note books for each subject?? Parents should keep these @home for revision…

        • It is a good idea Ms. Preeti, making students carry only the books necessary for that particular week/ month would be very helpful.

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