Carrying additional weight

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When Rochelle Stokes walksaround campus, the last thing onher mind is the damage she mightbe causing her back from theweight of her books. But studiesshow she may be doing long-termdamage.”I never carried books at home,”said Stokes, an exchange studentfrom Australia. She said she hadto buy a backpack because shehas so many textbooks.The average student shouldcarry about 10 to 15 percent of hisor her body weight, but actuallycarry almost one-fourth of his orher body weight, according to theAmerican Chiropractic Association.The way backpacks are wornhas an impact. Wearing packs thatare too heavy or improperly worncan cause neck, shoulder andback pain, and could even lead tospinal problems.”Improper use of or overloadinga backpack, like bad posture,is usually a result of a bad habit,”said Nancy Johns, a clinical educationcoordinator for the U’s Divisionof Occupational Therapy.Developing habits that cause continuousstrain can lead to longtermdamage to the back.In one study with American students,six out of 10 students fromages nine to 20 reported chronicback pain related to heavy backpacks,according to the AmericanOccupational Therapy Association.U student Kirsten Chapman isone of those students who overloadher backpack. She carriesfour binders, one for each class,in addition to her textbooks.”I think that sling bags aren’t asgood as shoulder straps,” Chapmanadded.More than 40 million studentsin the United States carry backpacks,according to the occupationaltherapy association. In2001, more than 7,000 emergencyroom visits were related to backpacksand book bags.According to experts from theCollege of Health’s division of occupationaltherapy, mixing heavybackpacks with a sedentary lifestyledoes not make for healthybacks.Johns said students should payattention to how they are wearingtheir backpacks.They should make sure they arewearing it properly and that it fitsproperly.Packing the heavier booksagainst the back and putting lighteritems like gym clothes at thefront will help strains on the back,Johns said.Joe Burkinshaw, a senior incommunication, offers a differentsolution.He said he “only carries booksif he absolutely has to have them,”and other students on campussaid they pull their backpacksaround on wheels as a solutionfor back [email protected]