(Valley News Live) - As kids get ready to go back to school, parents start checking off their shopping lists—and many may be looking for sturdy enough backpacks to hold all the books and materials needed for a kid's daily trek through the halls.
But according to chiropractors’ recommendations, many will carry a heavier load than they should.
Gabe Sandvig is entering his junior year of high school in West Fargo. He says his heavy backpack has led him to both the doctor and chiropractor in the past.
"I got tendonitis in my shoulder,” he said, “from the tendons being stretched out and condensed so tightly."
He estimates his backpack on a typical day weighs more than 20 pounds, when full with all its contents.
"Typically three notebooks, three textbooks, two reading books and four folders," he said.
Not to mention all the handouts that go into his folders.
"They get pretty full," he said.
We put together a similar scenario to check the weight. It consisted of three large text books, a pencil case with some supplies, one notebook and one folder. It came out to about 13 pounds.
Our backpack didn’t have everything Gabe described in his—but it's still heavier than a chiropractor would recommend for a 100-pound high schooler, like Gabe's sister, Hannah Sandvig. She's entering into her freshman year.
"There's just so many classes,” she said, “I feel like I'll probably have more text books and stuff like that."
The American Chiropractic Association recommends your child's backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of her or his weight.
Amy Christianson, a chiropractor here in Fargo, advises to not only take into account your child's backpack weight, but also its size. She says it shouldn't be longer or wider than a child's torso.
Christianson also advises children to use both shoulder straps when wearing the backpack, and if possible, also fasten any chest and waist belts for added support.
Soon-to-be freshman, Hannah Sandvig, says back in middle school, they could use laptops instead of textbooks.
But just when she's gaining a heavier load…
"At the high school, we don't have that option," she said.
That's in West Fargo. Meanwhile, Fargo high schools have a one-to-one technology initiative for its high schoolers. It also has laptops for middle schoolers, but they can't bring the laptops home. In an email, Fargo Public Schools tells us, “many textbooks are only used in the classroom and not assigned to students to use outside the classroom, unless required or requested.”
But how much are students required or requested to bring the books home? According to West Fargo High student, Gabe Sandvig, some teachers may not think about the overall load when assigning work.
"I feel like teachers don't really help us with that,” he said, “they just kind of try to play through it and pretend that it's not there."
But he says he's grateful for these summer months, when his shoulders can rest easy and prepare for the year ahead.