The impact of heavy books and bags on children’s backs places risks to the child’s spine. Prevention can reduce the impacts later in life.
The general rule is a maximum of 10% of the student’s body weight in the school bag. That works out to approximately 4-5 kgs for a 40-50 kg student. In a recent survey of 1,000 children, it found almost 50% of students were carrying well
over the 10% recommendation of their body weight.
There is immediate impact of strain on the spine from lifting a bag that is overloaded and too heavy.
The longer a child carries that load, the more severe the damage. For example, the amount of years the child carries a bag that is too heavy; as well as how far they carry it to and from school or to the car.
Then there is the question of the wheeled trolley bag. It seemed like a healthier option, and they were starting a trend within themselves.
However, new research comparing backpack and trolley usage amongst six to eight year olds found that the trolley group was characterised by spinal rotation, which could add extra stress to growing backs.
The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia recommends:
Backpacks should be no heavier than 10 per cent of a student’s weight when packed.
Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized – no wider than the student’s chest.
Put comfort and fit at the top of the priority list, rather than good looks.
Choose a backpack with broad, padded shoulder straps.
Use both shoulder straps – never sling the pack over one shoulder.
Use waist straps attached – they are there for a good reason.
Don’t wear the backpack any lower than the hollow of the lower back.
Don’t overload the backpack – use school lockers and plan homework well in advance.
Place all heavy items at the base of the pack, close to the spine, for a better distribution of the weight.