School bags – the start of back pain?

We know that back pain is common in adults, 40% had back pain lasting more than one day in the last 12 months.  But did you know that over 30% of 16-24 year olds had back pain last year? This is a surprising and worrying statistic.

The charity BackCare has done a great deal of work on back pain in young people.  Fifteen years ago they carried out a survey of 1000 school children about their school bags.  The bags were often poorly designed and young people carried for more weight in them than was acceptable for their age.  The implications for spinal health are not good.  The spine is pulled out of alignment and this could lead to back pain in the present and future.

You can read an article in the Daily Mail from March 12, 2012 on this

BackCare is running a new survey on school bags and want as many young people as possible to take their online survey at

Adults in the workplace are more protected from injury than children are in their work place – school.   There are regulations about load bearing for adults and proper equipement such as bags, chairs and desks.  Yet children are expected to sit on badly designed chairs and at desks which may be the wrong size for them and carry too much weight to and from school and between classes.  It is a scandal.

Even a well designed bag with the right amount of weight can cause problems if it is slung over one shoulder and the teen is slouching along, head down, texting on their mobile.  The bag, or the chair, can never do all the work; the human has to do their part.  This is where the Alexander Technique can help.  The Alexander Technique teaches people good posture and movement – the good technique of how to carry weight or use a chair and desk.  More about chairs and school children in my next blog.


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