Is your child’s backpack too heavy?

Aug. 20, 2014

Headshot image of Brian Udermann

Author Brian Udermann

In a few short weeks, kids will be putting on their backpacks for the first day of school. But is that pack — often weighing up to 30 pounds or more — causing shoulder and back problems?

Brian Udermann, UW-L professor of Exercise and Sports Science and director of online education, explores this question along with 101 other interesting topics in an upcoming book “Was Mom Wrong? The Truth About Another 101 Common Myths, Urban Legends and Old Wives Tales!” to be released later this year. Udermann also uncovered the truth behind more than 100 myths in his first book “25 Ways to Cure the Hiccups: Uncovering the Truth Behind 101 Common Myths and Misconceptions,” released in February 2011.

In his new book, Udermann shares his own reaction picking up his child’s backpack “I didn’t realize kids used backpacks as mini storage sheds,” he quips.

Hauling around that 20-30 pounds of textbooks, notebooks, day planners, phones, iPods, wrestling shoes, snacks and fishing lures … could cause problems, Udermann explains. In the book, he uses a variety of medical and health sources to support the claim that an improperly worn, heavy backpack can lead to severe back, neck and shoulder pain; posture problems; increased risk of falling and more.

Udermann cites the American Chiropractic Association, “This new back pain trend among youngsters isn’t surprising when you consider the disproportionate amount of weight they carry in their backpacks — often slung over one shoulder.”

Udermann has some solutions including purchasing a relatively lightweight backpack with two-sided, padded shoulder straps, a padded back and a waist strap. He also promotes use of a rolling backpack, which has a handle and wheels.