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Guest Post: BACK to School


Recently, at Life Movement, have been lucky enough to be working with an Exercise and Sports Science student. Some patients will have met her during their sessions. For the rest of you, we have a have a piece she’s been wonderful enough to write up for us:

BACK to School

Are your child’s overloaded bags affecting their health?


With the school holidays nearly over (parents, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!), it’s time to get the kids ready to go back to school. But, have you ever wondered what sort of effect those oversized, and often heavy, bags are having?

 What we found…

Recent studies have found that 50-64% of primary school children have reported experiencing back and shoulder pain as a result of carrying heavy bags to and from school (1)(4). Abnormalities in posture, balance and walking are just some of the common areas that are being impacted by heavy bags. These abnormalities start to form within the first 12 months (2)(3).

Awareness of posture is important for all of us, especially during childhood and adolescence when the body is adapting and learning new behaviours. (like, how we lift heavy bags, for example). These behaviours could possibly lead to issues with balance and posture later in life, which can take a lot more time and effort to correct (3).

So, what can we do…

  1. We couldn’t eliminate school bags entirely (sorry kids, the homework isn’t going anywhere…) but, we can reduce their possible negative effects. Nearly every study exploring this has found that problems arise once the weight of a bag exceeds 10% of a person’s total body weight. So, make sure your kids are only packing the essentials.
  2. When selecting a bag, make sure that it has adjustable straps that are worn securely over both shoulders. This will evenly distribute the weight across the back. (bags that sit over one shoulder tend to put a lot of strain on one side of the body).
  3. When wearing a bag, The Australian Spinal Research Foundation recommends that the “[bag] straps be shortened until the bottom of the backpack is just above the child’s waist, and not sitting on their buttocks”(5).

The take home message here, folks: when lifting anything heavy, make sure that you are doing so safely. Don’t be a Silly Sally.



  • Srivastava, P. and Buckshee, R. (2017). The Association of Individual Physical and Psychosocial Factors with School Bag Carriage Related Musculoskeletal Discomfort and Pain in Primary School Children. Indian Journal of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy – An International Journal, 11(4), p.138.
  • Mosaad, D. and Abdel-Aziem, A. (2015). Backpack carriage effect on head posture and ground reaction forces in school children. Work, 52(1), pp.203-209.
  • Brzęk, A., Dworrak, T., Strauss, M., Sanchis-Gomar, F., Sabbah, I., Dworrak, B. and Leischik, R. (2017). The weight of pupils’ schoolbags in early school age and its influence on body posture. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 18(1).
  • Hashemi, R. and Mohammadzade, J. (2018). A Mediator Role of Self-Control in Relation of the Attachment Styles and Angry in High School Female Students of Ilam. journal of ilam university of medical sciences, 25(5), pp.170-179.
  • Australian Spinal Research Foundation. (2018). Heavy School Bags Biggest Pain In The Neck – Australian Spinal Research Foundation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Jul. 2018].

Guest Author:
Gemma Haywood
Exercise Sports Science Student
Deakin University, Melbourne

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