A growing concern for parents over the past years has been about back pain in children due to the use of a heavy backpack. A reported 14,000 children go to the doctor or a physical therapist for back pains each year – could this be because of backpacks?
As a student in high school, my backpack was always abnormally heavy yet at my school everyone would always “one-strap it”(only carry their backpacks on one side), causing one side of my body to account for the weight of the backpack. I began to question if this was healthy for my body or not because it was causing me physical pain. Apparently, the part of one’s back that is what to be particularly concerned about is the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine is the lower vertebra in one’s spine that is most affected by weight.
In a study done to measure if backpacks had an effect on the lumbar spine in children, the lumbar spine was measured for the first time with a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. The children in the study were all healthy prior to this experiment.
Hypothesis: The weight of one’s backpack increases disc compression and lumbar curvature.
It was found that 92% of students usually carry about 10%-22% of their body weight in their backpack. The study used three boys and five girls around the age of 11, and measured the effects on each child with a 4, 8, and 12 kg backpack.
Results: The hypothesis was correct. The heavier the backpack weight, the worse effect it had on the disc compression of the child. This means that backpack weight accounts for the majority of pain children face when it comes to their back. It may not be killing us, but we need to pay more attention to what we are carrying in our backpacks. If it isn’t something you are going to be using in class – don’t bring it with you.