When I was in elementary school 30 years ago I would wear my backpack over both of my shoulders until I found out that it wasn’t cool to do that. I then was wearing my backpack over one shoulder and didn’t really seem to be bothered by it. That was also when we had 5 minutes between classes so that we have plenty of time to drop off and leave books behind in our locker. As I grew older I was learning that one of the behavior management strategies schools implement now is to cut down the amount of time spent in between classes. The problem that they didn’t foresee coming was that now children would have to carry most of their books for the day in their book bag because they didn’t have time to stop at their lockers. As backpacks got heavier, children’s bodies had to compensate.
During my Fun Fitness school assemblies, I show children a fake spine and we discuss how caring a backpack on one shoulder changes the muscular development around the spine. As we carry a backpack on one shoulder, the back muscles need to compensate for the extra 30 or 40 pounds of weight by working harder so that the body stands up straight instead of leaning over if the muscles worked at the same exertion. When a child carries their book bag over the same shoulder day in and day out, the muscles in the back on the opposite side get stronger and stronger and start pulling the spine over in their direction. Children that do not have scoliosis can actually develop it unintentionally.
As my purpose is to help solve problems instead of covering up symptoms, I’ve learned that one way to help this problem is to get a note from a doctor and bring it to the school and the school will be required to give you an extra set of textbooks for home in addition to ones that your children can keep in their lockers. Another solution is to make sure your child has a strong lower back by having them practice Superman’s on the ground where they lay on their bellies and stretch out and lift their arms and legs while only their belly rests on the floor. Below is an article with valuable information that any informed parent should have regarding back pain and backpack safety. Good luck.