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The Weight of the World on Their Shoulders

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For the past few days I’ve taken my nephew Isaiah to school. He’s a senior at an area high school. Nothing extraordinary about that except I’ve noticed the astounding number of kids carrying backpacks. 

Backpacks and more backpacks, that’s all you see in the mornings. At his school you’d be hard pressed to find a kid who isn’t carrying one on his or her way into the building. But it doesn’t stop with high school kids…just blocks away is an elementary school and to see the little boys and girls lugging and laboring with what appears to be the weight of the world over their shoulders and on their backs got me to thinking. 


Only if I had one dollar for every backpack I see these kids with…and then my thoughts turned to the question of health. Just how much do these packs weight? What do these packs have in them? 

I know how popular backpacks are – in my days in radio we did many promotions where we gave the carry-alls away hundreds at a time. But seeing them in action is quite different. I imagine the packs are filled with laptops, books, supplies and maybe some snacks. Who knows what else?

But do parents think about what carrying all this weight day in and day out could be doing to our children’s frames? 

Maybe, maybe not. And what else is there to help a kid get to school with all of the stuff they have to carry?

So, I had all these questions that had to be answered. Here’s what I found.

Dr. Melinda Bruxvoort, a chiropractor in Michigan says, “More than half the children in this country wear backpacks that are heavier than they ought to be.”

Experts and doctors agree, kids should not wear backpacks that are more than 10% of their body weight. That means that a 100 pound child shouldn’t carry a backpack that is more than 10 pounds.

Studies show that 55% of kids carry backpacks exceeding the recommended weight, and 64% of those children reported pain associated from carrying them.

"If a child is wearing a backpack that is too heavy for them, it might pull them back. So, to compensate you might see your child pulling forward - that is one red flag," said Bruxvoort. "They might also complain of back pain or tingling in their arms or hands. That is also a red flag that your child is wearing a backpack that is too heavy for them. That can lead to poor posture, unnatural curvature or unnatural compression of the spine."

Following a few guidelines can to help prevent problems in the first place. 

For one, make sure the backpack is the appropriate size, based on the student's body frame. The backpacks should have wide padded straps and the straps should be worn over both shoulders, and a hip strap should be worn as well. The backpacks should not extend any lower than the waist or curve of the back. 


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Eric Von is a former radio talk show host and a publisher of Brain Brawn & Body ( You can contact Eric at


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Guest Saturday, 24 February 2018