The Alabama Department of Education is urging all parents and students to be educated about the potential health impact of heavy backpacks and to take proactive measures to avoid injury.
Overloaded school backpacks are causing an increasing problem of back pain and spinal strain for students across the nation. Since spinal ligaments and muscles are not fully developed until after age 16, overweight backpacks are a source of repeated low-level stress that may result in chronic neck, shoulder, or back pain in children. Studies have shown that heavy loads carried on the back have the potential to damage the soft tissues of the shoulder, causing microstructural damage to the nerves and damage to internal organs. Studies have shown an increase in curvatures of the spine and compressed intervertebral height when backpacks exceed 10 percent of a child’s body weight.
Backpacks should weigh no more than a maximum of 10 percent of a child’s body weight.
Encourage students to wear both shoulder straps and not sling the backpack over one shoulder.
Student backpacks should have wide, padded adjustable straps that fit their body.
Parents should regularly monitor what is being carried in your student’s backpack. Only essentials needed for the school day should be carried. For more information regarding ACT #2017-19 or other Alabama laws go to sos.alabama.gov/government-records/legislative-acts