Are You or Your Child Carrying Too Much?

It's backpack season. Kids are boarding the bus. College students are back in their dorms. And I'm reminded of my serious neck ache from my own shoulder bag. It's a good time to take stock and ask yourself: are you or your child carrying too much in your bag or backpack?

While back pain is well-reported among adults, less is known about the long-term pain children suffer from heavy bags. In fact, when the National Institutes of Health first looked into it in 2006, they were shocked to discover that 37% of children age 11-14 reported some amount of back pain as a result of carrying a heavy bag.

So what can you do about it?

For starters, pack your backpack or bag every night. Oftentimes we throw more than we need in our bags as we rush out the door in the morning. By carefully thinking about the day ahead, you can plan for each item.

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As we get older, the amount of tech we carry around only increases. Between a laptop, eReader and camera, you could easily be carrying an extra 10 to 12 pounds on your shoulder. In this case, consider adding supplemental products to your life that will lighten the load and allow you to remove heavier items. For example, start doing your word processing on Google Docs and carry around a lightweight bluetooth keyboard so you can type from your eReader, tablet or mobile phone instead of taking the laptop.

If you have children, it's especially important that you condense and simplify. That means only having one notebook in their bag, as opposed to one notebook for each school subject. If possible, buy two of inexpensive tech like calculators and leave one at school and one at home. Remember, lunch gets heavy too, so do small things like having your child buy their beverages at school instead of throwing it in their backpack. Not only will this prevent spilling, but it will also lighten their bag dramatically.

(Images: Elizabeth Giorgi)

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Liz is a writer and filmmaker from Minneapolis. She was nominated for a Webby and won an Emmy for Science of Watchmen, a documentary short about the physics in the comic book movie. She’s a tech obsessive, verified nerd and total Anglophile.

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