Unbalanced bags can cause unnecessary pain

by Erin Ortiz

To a campus visitor, a morning rush through Gerhardinger Center looks like a luggage parade. Runway models have swapped slinky clothes for a purse and backpack on one arm balanced by laptop and latte on the other.

Unfortunately, lugging heavy or unbalanced bags throughout a day of grueling schedules can cause physical damage to the back and shoulders.

The average weight of students’ bags, gathered from five randomly sampled students, was 16.4 pounds. Paris Farrington, junior, weighed in with a 12-pound shoulder bag and a 5-pound purse. “I’ve never had any pain,” she said. “I make two trips to my car for big loads and only carry books for that day’s classes.”

Occupational therapy instructor and Mount Mary backpack specialist, Stephanie Beisbier, said an appropriate carrying weight is 15 percent or less of one’s body weight.


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