Children hunched like camels. What are the dangers of carrying a heavy backpack?

Children hunched like camels.  What are the dangers of carrying a heavy backpack?

Children slouch and complain of back pain and headaches. The reason may be carrying a heavy backpack. The record holder carried an 11-kilogram school bag!

As part of the “Attitude Academy” program, physiotherapists from Active Place weigh the backpacks of Warsaw students every year. Over the course of several years, screening tests have already included over 1,000 children. The latest report shows that the heaviest backpack was 11 kg and belonged to a seven-year-old child weighing 23 kg.i.e. the weight of the backpack was 48 percent of the student’s body weight!

How much weight should a children’s backpack weigh?

Doctor Weronika Błaszczyk, working in one of the family clinics in Toruń, appeals:

The weight of the backpack should not exceed 10 percent of the child’s body weight!

An average eight-year-old is between 119 and 141 cm tall and his weight ranges from 20 to 41 kg. Taking into account the lower limits of the norm, his backpack should not be heavier than 2 kg, and in the case of a heavier child – heavier than 4 kg. For children older than the fourth grade of primary school (assuming they weigh more), the weight of the backpack may be slightly greater, but should not exceed 15 percent of the child’s body weight. Although the lighter the school bag, the better. Meanwhile, a report prepared by the “Attitude Academy” shows that 77 percent of Polish eight-year-olds carry backpacks that are too heavy. This is not surprising – children carry, among other things, in their school bags. books, pencil cases, lunch boxes, drinks, clothes for physical education lessons. All this causes their spines to suffer.

What are the dangers of carrying a school bag that is too heavy?

Very often, on my way to work, I pass children carrying schoolbags on their backs that are as large as their owners. It is not uncommon for backpacks to be lowered too low on the shoulders, thus imposing an inappropriate posture on the student.– says the doctor. Weronika Błaszczyk.

What happens when a child carries a backpack that is too heavy? The consequences can be very serious. These include:

  • shifting the center of gravity backwards,

  • tilting the torso forward,

  • flexion in the hip joints,

  • postural muscle weakness,

  • excessive muscle tension in the cervical and lumbar spine,

  • shoulder protraction (moving forward),

  • incorrect positioning of the knee and ankle joints.

According to the doctor Weronika Błaszczyk, constant tension of the spine and slouching can also result in pain in the spine, neck and head – especially the latter two symptoms, which are often not associated with incorrect posture. And unfortunately, they are becoming more and more common.

How to relieve the child’s spine?

During the school period, the child grows very rapidly, which is why it is so important not to put additional strain on the spine. Especially since the student spends several hours a day at a desk, in a sitting position. At home, he or she does homework, watches TV or plays on the console, which also contributes to the development of postural defects. Moreover, children spend a lot of time in front of the phone screen. Bow. Weronika Błaszczyk points out that this habit overloads the cervical and thoracic spine. This, in turn, causes ligament and muscle overload, chest collapse, and even limited lung breathing capacity. Therefore, you need to take care of the correct position of the child’s body in a sitting position. If a child spends time in front of a computer, he or she should remember to: the monitor was at eye level, the keyboard was at shoulder level, and the hips were slightly above the knees. Your feet should rest on the floor.

Which school bag should you choose for your child?

An important element of taking care of children’s spines is practicing physical activity, thanks to which children can strengthen their muscles – this will make it easier for them to carry a school bag. When choosing a backpack, it is worth focusing on several aspects.

Features of a good backpack:

  • proper stiffening – the backpack should fit well to the child’s back, it is ideal if it has a bulge to support the lumbar spine, which helps maintain correct posture,

  • wide and soft shoulder straps, preferably adjustable so that they can be adjusted to the child’s height,

  • chest strap – a good solution that prevents the backpack from moving when the child bends over,

  • its length should not exceed a few centimeters below the child’s waist,

  • it should be light and made of a material that does not overheat your back.

Bow. Weronika Błaszczyk also reminds that the backpack cannot be worn on one shoulder! The harness should be worn on both shoulders because symmetrical weight distribution is key to maintaining proper body posture. It is worth packing a school bag according to the following scheme – the heaviest books should be placed as close to the back as possible. This makes it easier for the child to maintain balance and therefore the correct position.

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