Experts warn of pain caused by heavy backpacks


MACON, Ga. -- Students are returning to school, which means lots of books and backpacks to carry them.

However, carrying too much weight can cause back pain.

"Most times what it feels like is, you need to lay down," student Chioman Kalu. "But most times when you lay down, it still hurts."

Dr. Ryan Schnetzer at Coliseum Northside Hospital said each child is different.

"I would say anything more than ten to fifteen percent of their body weight," Schnetzer.

If a child is 80 pounds, that means their backpack should only weigh eight to 12 pounds.

Dr. Santanu Das at Pediatric First said that's a tough on younger students.

"The smaller the child, the problem becomes more severe," Das said. "Some of their books, each book can weigh three to four pounds. So when you put three or four books in the backpack you can see how the weight is adding up."

Not wearing the backpack correctly can also lead to problems.

"A lot of kids like to carry it over one shoulder," Schnetzer said. "I think that kind of increases the stress on their back, so we do recommend carrying that with two shoulders. But also when you have that excessive weight, it can cause a strain on their back muscles, on their lumbar and their paraspinal muscles."

Parents can be proactive and help prevent that.

"Parents should also check their child's backpack every week to make sure that there's not too much in the backpack," Das said. Whatever is not necessary, they take it out and put it away."

Studies have shown that heavy backpacks don't cause scoliosis or developmental problems, but the pain they cause can distract students from their work.

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