Forward head position is indicative of incorrect loading onto the spinal joints and muscular system
When school children carry heavy backpacks, the load from behind places a counteractive balance of the torso to lean forward causing a forward head posture.
Heavier the bag, the more strain is placed on the spinal joints. This problem affects between 40% and 70% of children in developed countries.1
Kistner et al., (2012) examined the effects of backpack loads on school children aged 8-11 years.
The postural compensation was demonstrated by an alteration to the forward head position.
The head position was analysed by the craniovertebral angle, which is a clinical measure of the angle of the head relative to the neck. The participant’s craniovertebral angle was examined without a backpack, and then with the backpack before and after walking 6 minutes. The backpacks weighed 10%, 15%, or 20% of the participant’s body weight.
The result from the study of Kistner, Fiebert and Roach (2012) revealed that there was a significant forward head position when the school children carried backpacks weighing 15% and 20% of their body weight. Furthermore, the craniovertebral angle was significantly influenced after walking for 6 minutes, and more than 50% of the participants reports discomfort primarily at the neck. A study by Walicka-Cupryś ,et al (2015) reported a decreasing curve of the lower back with heavy school bag loads. Pain associated with the excessive weight of the backpack is defined as “backpack syndrome”. This syndrome is characterised by abnormal spinal posture causing headaches, fatigue, and pain at the neck and lower back.
It can be concluded that:
School children should not carry backpack with loads heavier than 10% of their body weight to protect spinal health and prevent neck or back discomfort.
These findings place emphasis on monitoring the backpack load before your child starts school after the Easter holidays.
1.Dockrell, S., Simms, C., and Blake, C. (2015). Schoolbag carriage and schoolbag-related musculoskeletal discomfort among primary school children. Applied Ergonomics, 51, pp. 281–290.
2.Kistner, F., Fiebert, I., Roach, K. (2012). Effect of backpack load carriage on cervical posture in primary schoolchildren. Work, 41 (1): 99—108.
3.Walicka-Cupryś, K., Skalska-Izdebska, R., Rachwał, M., Truszczyńska, A. (2015). Influence of the Weight of a School Backpack on Spinal Curvature in the Sagittal Plane of Seven-Year-Old Children. Biomed Res Int., 2015.