Take a guess as to what the average college student’s backpack weighs. Whatever number you were thinking — the reality is probably higher. The average college student’s backpack now weighs more than 11.5 pounds. Last year, more than 22,000 people were treated for backpack-related injuries in the United States, and back pain is the most frequent physical health complaint among college students. The cost—in medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and legal liability—tops out at more than $1 billion annually.
National School Backpack Awareness Day is today, Wednesday, September 17, and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and Microsoft are holding a nationwide social media weigh-in contest to help students lighten their load. To get involved, students can tweet a picture of their bag and its contents using #LightenMyLoad and #SurfacePro3. One lucky entrant will even win a Surface Pro 3. At 2.41 pounds, the Surface Pro 3 is roughly half the weight of an average 14″ laptop — helping students significantly lighten their loads.
To help reduce back injury, the American Occupational Therapy Association lists some tips:
- Check that your packed backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of your body weight. If it weighs more, determine what you can leave at home that day to reduce the load.
- Always select a backpack that is the right size for you.
- Distribute weight evenly. Load heaviest items closest to your back and balance materials so that you can easily stand up straight.
- If a backpack has a hip belt, wear it to improve balance and take some strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles.
- If the backpack is still too heavy, consider a book bag on wheels.