Caution, heavy load: Children are damaging their backs with excessively full school rucksacks
School kids are damaging their backs by carrying heavy rucksacks, a report has found.
The most commonly-diagnosed conditions are scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, followed by lower back pain and involuntary muscle contractions.
The Archives of Disease in Childhood report found many teens carry rucksacks which top 15% of their body weight.
The authors said: "Many children transport excessively loaded backpacks, an excess which would not be allowed for workers in employment.
“We strongly encourage the medical and educational community to start advising parents and school children about the risks posed by heavy school bags and the fact this risk can be easily reduced.”
Experts at the University of Santiago de Compostela, La Coruna, Spain, analysed the back health of 1403 pupils aged between 12 and 17 from 11 schools.
The teens were weighed twice, with and without the rucksacks they carry to school.
Their height was taken, along with information about their lifestyle, exercise levels and any underlying health problems.
The experts found around nine in 10 teens carried a two-strap rucksack weighing 7kg on average to school.
Six in 10 carried backpacks exceeding 10% of their body weight, while one in five wore a rucksack that topped 15% of their own weight.
One in four had suffered back pain for more than 15 days in the previous year.
Those teens whose rucksacks were among the top 25% in weight were 50% more likely to have back pain for in excess of 15 days than those whose backpacks weighed the least.
Seven in 10 of those with a diagnosed back condition suffered scoliosis.
The authors pointed out previous research also linked rucksacks to altered gait and posture which could cause lasting damage.
They said: “These biomechanical alterations could induce the appearance of chronic pain and back pathologies in the long term."
They urged doctors and teachers to start advising parents and children on the risks of carrying heavy bags to school every day.
About Dr Kevin Lau
Dr Kevin Lau DC is the founder of Health In Your Hands, a series of tools for Scoliosis prevention and treatment. The set includes his book Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment, a companion Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction DVD and the innovative new iPhone application ScolioTrack.
Dr Kevin Lau is a graduate in Doctor of Chiropractic from RMIT University in Melbourne Australia and Masters in Holistic Nutrition. He is a member of International Society On Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment (SOSORT), the leading international society on conservative treatment of spinal deformities.
In 2006 I was awarded the "Best Health-care Provider Awards" by the largest Newspaper publication in Singapore on October 18 2006 as well as being interviewed on Primetime Channel News Asia as well as other TV and Radio. For more information on Dr Kevin Lau, watch his interviews or get a free sneak peek of his book, go to: http://www.hiyh.info.