School kids in the age group of 12 to 14 year olds carry anything between 4 to 7.7 kg in their schoolbag every day. The findings of a range of studies have shown that kids who carry a load more than 10 percent of their body weight are likely to suffer from back pain. The schoolbags weigh from 10 percent up to 17 percent of their body weights.
The research was carried out on 1403 Spanish children who aged between 12 and 17. 61 percent of these had backpacks that exceeded the acceptable limit of 10 percent of their body weight. These children were more likely to suffer from back pain than children who carried lighter bags. One can hardly find any kid now-a-days who does not have to labour under the weight of a schoolbag which is full of textbooks, homework, lab coats, sports kits, musical instruments and packed lunch. This research has put a serious question mark on the usefulness of it!
The usual quip on the question of whether schoolbags are too heavy to be any good for the kids’ backs is that since these are kids, they can take the burden and bounce back with no trouble. Studies have shown that heavy bags may not necessarily cause back pain in adolescents, but there is indeed a relationship. This is because sedentary lifestyles can also cause back pain. The way a heavy bag carried on the back affects the walk can explain the reason for back pain. Since the angle between head, neck and shoulders become asymmetrical, some adverse affect is inevitable but it does not lead to permanent disorders such as scoliosis, a deformity in the curvature of spine.
However, one study has established a direct link between the heaviness of bag and how it is likely to cause back pain in adolescents. It was done on 745 participants in two regional health centres of Netherlands. Although the weight of school bags played their part, psychosomatic factors also had a huge role to play in determining whether the school kids suffered from back pain or not. It was seen that a kid who was worried or anxious tended to feel the weight of the schoolbag more.
Backpacks are the ideal schoolbag design but you do need to make sure that your child is not carrying weight more than he needs. Moreover, make sure that the weight is evenly distributed on your child’s back, so that most of the schoolbag’s weight does not fall on the lower back.
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