Backpacks bring pain

Lydia Urice and Cory DeWald
Contributing Writers

Of 44 students, 37 said they’ve experienced pain due to carrying their backpacks.They said they experienced pain mainly in their backs, shoulders and neck. 

Of the 37, 18 said they experienced pain in shoulders, eight said, “Back,” four said, “Neck,” and seven said, ”All of the above.”

“Wearing a backpack with straps definitely puts a lot of weight on my shoulders, especially when I have a backpack that’s full of textbooks and binders,” junior Caroline Gillow said. 

Gillow recently dislocated three of her vertebrae while working on sculpture for art class, and now she can’t put any weight on her back for the rest of the semester.

“I used to use a standard backpack, but then I had to switch to a rolling bag that can be converted to a backpack. I always have to roll it around school now,” Gillow said.

 “You definitely get a lot of funny looks because it [the rolling backpack] is very loud, and you take up a lot of room in the hallway, and you have to use the elevators because you can’t carry your bag up the stairs, so it takes longer to get to class,” Gillow said  

 According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 51,000 people went into the emergency room, clinics and doctors offices for backpack related injuries in 2018. In 2013 there were only 5,415 backpack related injuries treated in emergency rooms in the U.S. 

“It’s not a huge deal, but it’s definitely a little cumbersome,” Gillow said.

“It [pain] is usually in my shoulders. If I wear it a long time, it might be my neck,” freshman Ann O’Halloran said. 

One afternoon, O’Halloran  weighed her backpack only to find  it amassed to 27 pounds. 

According to Active, a healthy weight of a backpack would be at most 15 percent of a person’s body weight. Students should regularly empty the bag and take out what is unnecessary. Then, organize the items that come out of the backpack into light folders and binders.

One way students could take a load off would be using a locker. Eighteen out of 44 students don’t even know where their lockers are, let alone use them. Using a free school provided locker to store school supplies and sports equipment could take some weight off of students’ backs or where ever it hurts. 

When students wear their backpack for a it most commonly impacts their neck, back and shoulder, and often all three. According to, the long term effects of wearing a backpack may make a person shrink, as the weight of the backpack compresses one’s spine in the long run. If it is heavy enough, it could lead to scoliosis.

“I would say that there are students in here if not every day certainly every week, complaining of some sort of back pain,” Nurse Rachel Huertas said. “The biggest complaint from the heavy backpacks would be the pain that just doesn’t go away.”

“You can always rest or [take] ibuprofen, ice, but really what’s more important is preventing them in the first place,” Huertas said. 

Some local stores to get good, supportive backpacks are Dick’s Sporting Goods, REI and Best Buy. One key element to seek in a supportive backpack are big straps built to distribute the weight. Additionally, If a backpack has chest or waist straps, those are helpful in helping carry the load.

Backpacks can be helpful in carrying books and needed school supplies, but the long term effects can lead to problems now or later on.


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