Encouraging a Healthy Spine Culture for Students in Class

Encouraging a Healthy Spine Culture for Students in ClassEncourage a Healthy Spine Culture

One item that students always have with them is their backpack. It is always fun as a kid to pick out your backpack for the year in excitement for a new year to begin. However, when those backpacks get loaded with papers, books, projects, and laptops they literally become a burden, doing untold damage to young backs and otherwise healthy spines.

A study in Poland showed that heavy backpacks can actually cause disk compression. On top of being weighed down by backpacks between classes, students immediately sit down at a desk for the duration of a class, which also contributes to poor posture. These practices started at a young age can negatively affect students’ spinal health in the long term. The good news for these kids is there are simple and accessible solutions that parents and teachers can implement now.

Effects of Carrying a Heavy Backpack

A study was conducted on students between the ages 7-10, showing that 40% to 70% of these children are affected by heavy backpacks. Children ages 11-to-13 can also experience lumbar curvature and disc compression discomfort as they carry bags that are 10-30% of their weight. The issue of heavy backpacks may seem silly, but it is affecting many young students. That is why we have put together the following list to lighten the load of their backpacks.

Rules of Thumb to Lighten the Load

Have a time to clean out backpacks. Once a week, allow some time to clean out their backpacks. You could do this before school while they pack their things for the day, or before bed when you’re preparing for the next school day. Or even before the bell rings to dismiss students for the day you can have the class check their bags to make sure all trash is taken out and any books they don’t need are not in their backpacks.

Find a backpack with padded straps. Padded straps help cushion the weight on their shoulders if their backpack does get too heavy.

Use both straps on the backpack. When using a backpack make sure to use both of the backpack straps. This simple action evenly distributes the load being carried. When students use only one strap it puts the back and shoulder in a strained position.

Keep backpacks at 10-15% of the child’s weight. Make an activity out of it! You can get together with your children and weigh the backpacks together. Maybe even make a fun game of guessing how much it weighs. After you weigh it, take things out of the bag if necessary to adjust the weight accordingly.   

Only use a backpack when necessary. Encourage the students to only use a backpack when it is necessary. This way, they aren’t carrying heavy backpacks all day long. Have a place for students’ to leave bags in their homeroom class.

Leave books at the school. If possible, leave some textbooks at the school. Many students have lockers or cubbies in their classrooms. See if they can leave some of their heavier textbooks at school or in the classroom.

Have a school and home set of textbooks if needed. If you can’t leave books at school, see if you can borrow a second set of textbooks to keep at home. This will prevent the kids from having to lug their textbooks to and from school every day.

Standing desks have many benefits that can help students have a healthy spine while they are at school, and you can help make sure that they are working towards this too. Be aware of how the students are walking with heavy backpacks. Perhaps you could implement some of these tips in your home or classroom and promote healthy spines and happy minds.  

The Benefits of Standing Desks