As the mother of a teenager, the prevalence of musculo-skeletal problems in teens is interesting to me and recently I’ve seen many more high school children presenting at my practice complaining of back pain, neck ache and headaches. With the new term starting soon I decided to analyse the research and prevalence of problems and try to offer some solutions.
Looking back one of the first articles I wrote for Todmorden News in 2008 was about the weight of school bags and how this affected children’s backs. Research carried out by Helen Behrens, a nurse and lecturer, had shown that 30% of children carried schoolbags weighing over 10% of their bodyweight. She reported that this placed unnecessary stress on the growing adolescent spine that, later in life, could be the cause of back pain. I believe that this is still a significant problem – neither of our local high schools have lockers for the students to use meaning that children carry heavy loads not only to and from school but throughout the school day including all their books for each day plus any PE kit, instruments for music lessons and ingredients for food technology.