Weighed down

According to a recent research report published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood which looked to investigate whether backpack weight is associated with back pain in children, 50% of children carrying heavy back packs had a higher risk of back pain.


The issue of protecting children’s backs from heavy bags in not a new one to the British Chiropractic Association who has been running a programme called ‘Watch Your Back for several years.

Tim Hutchful, BCA Chiropractor, says: “Children in the UK tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle and are especially vulnerable as their bones are ‘soft’ and still developing. Heavy backpacks can cause a problem but doing something as simple as checking the bag contents each day and making sure that a child uses a rucksack properly with both straps properly adjusted, could make all the difference.”

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) offers the following advice aimed at preventing back pain in children to preserve the health of their backs now and into the future:

· Bag it up – if your child has to carry a bag to school – a rucksack is the best option as long as it is carried over both shoulders, and the straps are adjusted so that the bag is held close to the back. Loads are easier to carry when held closer to the body and symmetrically (try not to have a load held off to one side), ensuring weight is evenly distributed

· Check it- make sure your child is not carrying any unnecessary excess weight – check daily that all the items in their bags are essential. Ensure school bags are packed correctly – heavy objects should be packed first and placed on the inside of the bag, close to the spine and pelvis

· Best Foot Forward – Make sure your child has good footwear; soft-soled shoes that are supportive and have a good grip will make it easier for them to carry a heavier school bag

· Exercise – lack of exercise is your child’s worst enemy. Encourage your child to take regular exercise as, the fitter your child is, the less likely they are to injure themselves

· Don’t ignore pain or discomfort – If your child can’t stand up straight easily or they complain that the bag limits their movement – then it is too heavy. Encourage your child to tell you about pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy schoolbag. Pain in a child or teenager should not be ignored.