A study in the Clinical Biomechanics Journal compared the differences in forces in the lower back under varying backpack loads. The results showed that walking with a load of 15% of body weight caused a 26.7% increase in the load of the lower back and walking with a load 30% of body weight caused a massive 64% increase in the load on the lower back. They also noted that walking with a heavy bag caused a compensatory trunk flexion posture (bending or forward leaning posture). Carrying these sort of heavy loads for up to 12 years of their schooling life can definitely lead to problems in the future.
So what is the ideal weight of a bag? To accommodate for these forces the Chiropractic Association of Australia suggests that children should limit the weight they carry in their bags to only 10% of their body weight. That’s only around 4-5kgs for a 40-50kg student. Have a look at your child's bag and see how it compares to this. Other suggestions to help reduce the strain on the back are:
- Make sure it is packed correctly so that heavier items are placed close to the spine.
- Make sure the bag is no wider than the childs shoulders.
- Use both shoulder straps, don’t just carry the bag over one shoulder.
- Use waist straps to help distribute the load properly.
- Try to avoid having a bag that hangs below the waist.
- When lifting the school bag, use the correct lifting techniques.
- The best backpacks have a padded back, broad padded shoulder straps, adjustable straps and a waist belt.
If your child is having to carry a heavy bag then try some of the tips above. If they are having any problems or complaining of pain make sure you get them assessed by a chiropractor. Small changes made now can make significant changes in the future. If you have any questions, make sure you contact us. We are here to help.