Increasing bag weights harm students

In the video above, brought to you by Daisy , we have discussed the important issue of overweight school bags with many students.

The increasing weight of books in student backpacks is causing concern among leading physiotherapists. With rising concerns about GCSE grades, students have been pressurised to carry all they can in terms of books. Huge loads of school materials are put into bags daily when only one page is needed. How much concern should we really have over this issue? Should students be wearing fashion bags instead of bags that support the back? We spoke to a leading physiotherapist who highlighted the many concerns she has on increasing bag weight.

The musculo-skeletal physiotherapist stated that a back pack is the best bag to carry items, but wearing an unsuitable backpack can contribute to back pain and may even influence poor posture, which may last into adulthood. She said, "A back pack should ideally be worn with short straps on both shoulders (not just one) so that it sits high on the back. One should aim to have the bag as light as possible but the maximum weight is dependant on the child's size and strength. The weight should allow the child to maintain a good upright posture with no undue effort."

After talking to many students, it was widely suggested that the weight of their school bags is excessive; their bags are full of unnecessary items that could possibly be replaced with electronic devices (e.g. iPads) that contain online textbooks. Especially with the pressure of GCSEs, it is often the case that teachers encourage students to bring as much material as possible to their lessons, adding onto the unhealthy weight of their bags.

Nowadays, school bags can weigh over an astounding two stone. School bags are getting heavier and heavier every year and nothing is being done about it. Backpacks have doubled in size and weight in a decade. Back specialists claim that heavy bags are a ‘healthcare time bomb’. Young students have to carry their bags around almost all day, resulting in over 50% of children complaining of back and shoulder pain. Research has proven that the heaviest bags are of those in the lower years, which is a major problem as this can leave to permanent spinal damage for the rest of their lives. If children are suffering back pain so young then there is the potential they will have it for the next 70 to 80 years. It will almost definitely bring about spine curvature, poor posture, a forward bend in the back (i.e. kyphotic posture) and hardens breathing. Children should not be carrying more than 15% of their body weight on their shoulders. However, the vast majority of children are carrying 20% to 25% of their weight regularly. Here are the precautions you should be taking to prevent spinal damage:

* Do not carry over 10% of body weight for too long;

* Use bags with padded straps -> narrow straps squeeze nerves and blood vessels and chafe skin;

* Use both straps when carrying your bag.

Heavy bags may also discourage students from actually bringing their material to class. If bringing their books and work is going to lead to damaging one’s physical health, then this issue of having such heavy bags may cause to impact upon the education of students.

Overall, it can be safely be said that school bags are too heavy. The physiotherapist has clearly states that fashion bags are not good for the back and really don’t give enough support for growing young people. Unfortunately there is little awareness of the dire situations that students could be in when carrying such unhealthy weights. This is a huge problem. It is time for parents to take a direct approach in their children’s back health as it has long been a subject of little awareness and more attention should be focused on it.

By Gabriella, Fleur and Daisy, Francis Holland School