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.
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 and 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.
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
Carrying 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.
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!