With the growing workload of school children ever increasing, the heavy weighted and oversized school bags also increase. This has adverse effects on posture, which can result in musculoskeletal pain and discomfort. Added to the heavy weighted school bags are lunch boxes and sports bags that children need to carry. Heavy backpacks combined with prolonged periods of sitting and the use of technical devices such and smart phones and tablets are all adding to the increasing load.
The Dublin study found that 65% of discomfort was reported in the shoulders, not surprisingly as the popular method of carriage is a backpack style bag with carriage on the back with two straps over the shoulders. There was a reported 30% discomfort in the back.
The Indian state of Maharashtra which has now imposed a regulation that school children are not allowed to carry school bags that exceed 10% of their body weight.
So what can be done:
▪ Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized – no wider than the student’s chest. Choose a backpack with broad, padded shoulder straps.
▪ Use both shoulder straps – never sling the pack over one shoulder.
▪ The straps should be shortened until the bottom of the backpack is just above the child’s waist, and not sitting on their buttocks.
▪ When the straps are shortened to this level, the backpack should lie flat on the child’s back.
▪ Use waist straps.
▪ 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.
▪ A Biokineticist can help manage and address any postural and/or musculoskeletal discomfort that comes from carrying heavy backpacks.