Use of Schoolbag in Children is Not Linked to Low Back Pain
An Australian review of previous studies has conculuded that the weight & design of school bags is not linked to an increase in the risk of developing back pain.
Back pain due to heavy schoolbags is one of the biggest concerns identified by parents in relation to their children starting school. However, a review of the published research on back pain and school bag use does not demonstrate an increased risk of back pain in children and adolescents. This paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed 69 studies relating to schoolbag use and back pain. The studies involved a total of more than 72,000 children. While some pupils linked their pain to a perceived excess weight of their schoolbag the overall picture was one which lacked clarity. One of the studies reported that children who said they have difficulty carrying their schoolbags had a higher risk of persistent back pain.Most guidelines recommend that a schoolbag should range between 5 to 25 percent of body weight. There is very little evidence to back up this recommendation however.
The main issue in children is that of obesity and lack of exercise. It can be argued that regular weight bearing exercise would help to increase bone density and muscle mass and would be good for overall spinal health, although this was not shown in this review.
When organising the schoolbag it is best to place the heavy books closest to the back of the bag and ensure the straps are adequately padded for comfort. If your chid is experiencing back pain, it may be wise to temporarily reduce the load being carried if they report that this decreases their symptoms. Aside from this, it is adviseable to encourage our children to walk and to weightbear where possible as part of our efforts to encourage a healthy active lifestyle.