School Bags can be a “PAIN IN THE BACK!”

As a parent of 3 school aged children, I dread watching my girls walk out the door yoked under the weight of their heavy bags, and with the school year well underway I though it’s time to highlight some important points about school bags and how they may be harming our kids.

Recently I found some excellent research showing that heavy school bags place unnecessary stress on growing spines and can lead to acute and long-term back problems (1) and carrying overloaded school bags to and from school can also have long terms health implications (2).  Studies have also shown that lifting a bag that is tood heavy causes immediate strain on the spine and the longer the child carries that load, the more severe the damage.  Common sense – I know, but it is still really important to find the balance.

A survey by CAA Victoria into the average bag weights of 1,000 children found that almost 50% of students carried bags well over the 10% of their body weight recommendation.  This equates to at least every second child at school having an excessively heavy bag!

A pro-active recommendation to minimise the risks include students limit the weight they carry in a school bag to no more than 10% of their body weight.  That’s only around 4-5 kilos for a 40-50 kg student.

Here are 5 tips to avoid the back to school backache:

  • Never carry more than 10% your body weight.
  • Wear your bag over both shoulders and use waist straps attached.
  • Don’t wear the bag any lower than the hollow of the lower back.
  • Don’t overload the bag and pack only what you need.
  • Pack heaviest items at the bottom of the bag closest to your back.

Dr Nicole Hudson

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