New Twist on the Old Backpack Problem

For a while now there has been much concern and worry about how heavy the backpacks our children carry have gotten. First of all, let’s hope the kids are putting those books to good use and not just carrying them around unopened, collecting dust bunnies! If they do have to carry the books around, let’s look at it from the positive side. Carrying a backpack can be great exercise. Across our society we see and hear about our youth getting less and less exercise…less P.E. and outdoor play and more time spent on the computer, playing video games, and watching TV. The SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) states that the body responds to the demands that are put on it. Provide a resistance and the body will develop the muscles and strategies to move it. In this instance the resistance is the backpack. While they may be big and heavy, backpacks can provide a bit of exercise for our children after hours of sitting in class. However, it is important for the kids to have the muscles to support the weight.

To help your child develop the strength and muscles to handle the heavy-load, incorporate the following exercises into their daily schedule:

Bridges: lie on your back with your knees bent and arms to the side, lift your bottom up off the ground as high as you can. Hold this position for 30 seconds. For increased difficulty put your arms in the air as shown in the photo. Still too easy? Try extending one leg and supporting your weight on one leg for 30 seconds.

Prone plank: Support your weight on your toes and elbows suspending your body off the ground. Keep your spine straight. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

 

Lunges: Hold a stick or dowel rod behind your neck, keep back straight, step forward and go down into a lunge position, return upright. Repeat 10 times on each leg.


Here are some tips for handling that heavy backpack:

  1. If able, only carry the books you need,
  2. Prior to carrying your bag, do some squats, back bends or other stretches
  3. Use both shoulder straps and the waist strap if the pack has one.
  4. Tighten the straps so the pack sits tightly against the back.
  5. If the pack seems too big or heavy, take 2 books out and carry them under your arm. This will help counterbalance the weight.
  6. If you are walking long distances take breaks, to put the pack down.
  7. Don’t run with your back pack on.
  8. Convince your dad to carry your bag, he probably needs the exercise too.

For more specific answers about your child’s backpack or other concerns, we invite your questions and comments.