Going to school means carrying books, notebooks, lunch boxes, and all of these in heavy school bags. Though school bags are essential for children, now they have become a growing concern for students and parents. Usually, school-going children complain about experiencing back, shoulder, and neck pain. This problem caused due to school bags is known as “School Bag Syndrome.” These days school children have to carry heavy school bags and that makes them suffer from School Bag Syndrome. Let us read further to know more about school bag syndrome.
What is School Bag Syndrome?
School bag syndrome is a condition experienced by children and caused due to the weight of their school bags. Heavy school bags can change the posture of the body and to compensate for this stress, the musculoskeletal system will react. Some children do not wear their school bags properly or carry their bags on one shoulder. Doing this, or lifting heavy school bags improperly can cause severe complications. Repeating such activities daily can damage the spine, promote incorrect body posture, or can cause back pain, shoulder, and neck pain.
School bag syndrome can affect the health of growing children significantly. Children who suffer from school bag syndrome experience shoulder blade pain, back pain, neck pain, pressure overhead, shoulder pain, dizziness, and numbness in arms.
Can School Bags Cause Back Pain In Children?
- Studies have shown that the presence of external forces, which include, the weight of a school bag affects the growth and also the posture of a child, patterns of walking, and also facilitates the vulnerability to pain in the lower back.(1,2)
- A study published in June 2004, which was based on if school bags can cause spinal disease, indicated that the weight of school bags significantly increased the risk of back pain in children, especially the bags that exceeded 20% of the children’s body weight.(3)
- It has been found that heavy school bags are linked to various problems, such as injury to hands, wrists, elbows, back, and shoulders. Moreover, the posture of children carrying schoolbags was also affected.
- A study published in 2012 in The Daily Telegraph observed 1400 school children with their backpacks. The study found that school about half of the 1400 school children had their school bags exceeding 10% of their body weight. Children carrying the heaviest bags had a 50% increased risk of back pain when compared with children who carried the lightest school bags.
- The results of some other similar surveys done in the UK reported that about half of all teenagers occasionally had back pain due to poor posture, due to overloaded bags, and a sedentary lifestyle.(4)
- Another study published in 2011, that involved 307 elementary school students in Iran found that those who carried more than 10% of their weight, especially girls and kids of lower grades reported pain in their shoulders, wrists, and lower back.(5)
The studies mentioned above and a few more studies indicated that carrying heavy school bags resulted in back pain in school-going children. Their growing muscles and bones get affected due to heavy weight of their school bags and also the duration they carry their school bags.
How To Reduce the Load On Children’s Spine Caused By School Bags?
One of the growing concerns of parents these days is the occurrence of school bag syndrome and back pain in their children due to heavy school bags. As per the research conducted by the British Chiropractic Associated, it has been found that 1/3rd of children carry a school bag with a single strap, and this can result in more problems due to the weight being loaded on just one shoulder.(6) With a single-strapped school bag, a child can experience back, shoulder, and neck pain.(7)
Let us take a look at various ways to reduce the load on children’s spines caused by school bags.
- Do not carry school bags that are more than 10% of your total body weight.
- Use both shoulder straps that are padded and well-adjusted.
- Educate the children about correct lifting techniques.
- Allow your children to be active and participate in regular exercise programs so that they maintain strong and flexible back and body musculature.
- Check the contents that your children carry in their bags regularly and remove the unwanted things that might be increasing the weight of their school bags.
- Let your children carry lightweight school bags. Some school bags are heavier than others even without items in them. Make sure to purchase lightweight school bags, which would reduce the pressure.
- Take your children to physiotherapists who can help in managing musculoskeletal discomfort and also guide them in proper posture management.
So, school bags can result in back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain in children and cause school bag syndrome. Being parents, teachers, or elders, we must try to reduce a load of school bags in all possible ways so that they won’t have to carry heavy bags to school or stress their spine or back, which can lead to school bag syndrome. Alternatively, we should also try to keep our children active so that they suffer from less pain than they might get from heavy school bags.
- School Bag Weight and the Occurrence of Shoulder, Hand/Wrist and Low Back Symptoms among Iranian Elementary Schoolchildren – PMC (nih.gov)