Heavy backpacks weigh on students' shoulders

By Ashley Porter - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - As the school year begins, backpacks can become a weight on students' shoulders. Fifth grader Alyssa Emory, who weighs about 90 pounds, sometimes carries a backpack that's nearly a third of her weight.

"I've been having to come home and take naps because my back's been locking up and cramping really bad," Alyssa said.

"We really didn't realize how much she was going to be toting around on a regular basis," added Alyssa's mother, Grace Emory.

Doctors recommend that when you pack your backpack, put the bulky items toward the front. Then, when you zip it up and put it on your shoulders, make sure to put it on both shoulders so you distribute the weight evenly.

Physical therapist Lindsey Byrd wants to make sure more children don't hurt themselves.

"It should have a padded back on the backside. A waistband would really help to evenly distribute the load. Some kids get really creative in how they carry their backpacks and they'll even carry it on the front, but the front's not always better. The load of the backpack should never be any heavier than 15 percent," Byrd said.

Fifteen percent of Alyssa's weight would mean a 13.5 pound backpack, instead of one weighing 33 pounds.

"I kind of have to bend and make my back into sort of a table-like thing to go everywhere. Coming home like that on a daily basis is just too much," Emory added.

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