Postural effects of symmetrical and asymmetrical loads on the spines of schoolchildren

Scoliosis. 2007 Jul 9:2:8. doi: 10.1186/1748-7161-2-8.


The school backpack constitutes a daily load for schoolchildren: we set out to analyse the postural effects of this load, considering trunk rotation, shoulder asymmetry, thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis, and sagittal and frontal decompensation from the plumbline. A group of 43 subjects (mean age = 12.5 +/- 0.5 years) were considered: average backpack loads and average time spent getting to/from home/school (7 min) had been determined in a previous study conducted on this population. Children were evaluated by means of an optoelectronic device in different conditions corresponding to their usual everyday school backpack activities: without load; bearing 12 (week maximum) and 8 (week average) kg symmetrical loads; bearing an 8 kg asymmetrical load; after fatigue due to backpack carrying (a 7-minute treadmill walking session bearing an 8 kg symmetrical load). Both types of load induce changes in posture: the symmetrical one in the sagittal plane, without statistical significant differences between 8 and 12 kg, and the asymmetrical one in all anatomical planes. Usual fatigue accentuates sagittal effects, but recovery of all parameters (except lumbar lordosis) follows removal of the load. The backpack load effect on schoolchildren posture should be more carefully evaluated in the future, even if we must bear in mind that laws protect workers to carry heavy loads but not children, and results in the literature support the hypothesis that back pain in youngsters is correlated with back pain in adulthood.