This archived article was written by: Katie Capalbo
In today’s “modern” age, it seems as though every product and every action, comes with a set of risks. It comes as no surprise to open the morning newspaper and discover that your favorite brand of shampoo is now causing cancer. So it is no wonder that something as simple as the backpack is a health risk to its users.
When one thinks of a backpack, nothing negative comes to mind, but the problem actually has its own awareness day, so it must be real enough. That’s right, September 24th was National School Backpack Awareness Day. Now, don’t be upset that you missed it, I’ll fill you in on what’s going on in the dangerous world of … the backpack.
To some students, a backpack is merely a book-carrying device that makes moving from class to class a little easier. To others it is a fashion accessory. Either way, there are certain ways that a backpack should be packed and carried. If either is done incorrectly, things such as aching shoulders and back muscles, tingling arms and stooped posture can become a problem for the wearer.
The biggest problem leading to discomfort is the backpacks’ weight. Backpacks are designed to hold five to seven pounds and students usually carry about 15 to 20. The Occupational Therapy Association said that in a recent study students carry about 20 to 25 percent more weight than they should. Make sure everything in your backpack is needed and hand carry items if it is too heavy. Also, load the heaviest items closest to your back and make sure they are arranged so that they won’t slide.
As a last resort to discomfort, check out your options in a rolling backpack. This is a last resort only because this item is, well, not for those who are going for style. If you are going for that “flight attendant look” then fine, but be aware of its hazards as well. Rolling backpacks are known to cause tripping. If you do decide to use one, be aware of people around you and if your little backpack on wheels trips someone help them up.
You probably don’t even think twice about how you wear your backpack or about special straps and support buckles. You should be aware that in your shoulders and neck you have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in your neck, arms and hands if the pressure from your straps is intense enough. Choose a backpack that has wide padded straps that adjusts so you can rest it in the curve of your back. Make sure it also includes a support strap that runs across your chest to keep it tight against your body. For you cool students who wear one strap off the shoulder listen. This completely corny trend may result in a curved spine or leaning to one side. Looking cool has no room contending with the health of your spine, but try using both straps and you might enjoy the results.
Whether your intent of wearing a backpack is for easy traveling purposes or for your outfit finisher, make sure you wear it right and pack light. Because I just rhymed I will try to leave in style with some backpacks that are easily accessible that have personality and are still comfortable: Rak Gear Deluxe, Jansport Velocity, Ogio Avalanche and Eastpak Ultimate.