Article Thumbnail

Carrying a Backpack Is Back-Breaking Work

The good, the bad and the ugly things we learned about our bodies today

Move over, NFL anthem protesters — America has a new public enemy #1: backpacks.

A recent study in Science Daily found that schoolchildren carrying heavy loads were at risk of suffering damage to the soft tissues and nerves of their shoulder, which could result in everything “from simple irritation to diminished nerve capacity, ultimately limiting the muscles’ ability to respond to the brain’s signals, inhibiting movement of the hand and the dexterity of the fingers.”

In another study, heavy backpacks — some that added up to as much as 30 percent of a child’s body weight — caused disc compression that could permanently alter the curvature of the spine.

Children aren’t the only ones at risk, however. Natalie Lovitz, Clinical Director of Professional Physical Therapy in New York City, says that adults who regularly wear heavy bags such as purses and briefcases “can cause or reinforce muscle imbalances in the shoulders and spine.” Which, in turn, can cause back and shoulder problems, headaches and even change the way you walk.

While we used to make endless fun of them when we were kids, perhaps roller bags are the answer to this dangerous epidemic after all — for child and adult alike.

A few other things we learned about our bodies today: