The school bag has been at the receiving end of a lot of criticism in the past years as it is blamed for the child's poor posture. But now, a leading expert says that walking or cycling while carrying a school bag helps the child improve his/her spinal muscle strength and endurance.
In the latest Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, Professor Leon Straker of Curtin University, Western Australia, is urging parents to load up their teenager's backpack and make them walk to school.
According to the expert, carrying heavy bags reduces back pain because greater muscle strength improves support for the back during load carrying, reports ABC Science.
Despite advocating that parents get their children moving, Straker warns bag load should not exceed 15percent of body weight.
To reach the conclusion, students were asked a series of questions such as how long they carried their bags for, how they carried their school bags, the time taken to get to school, method of travel, and their perceptions about the bag's weight and the fatigue levels they felt.
Straker says about half of all participants experienced back and neck pain, with slightly more females reporting neck pain.
Females also had a higher prevalence than males for all measures of spinal pain.
The onset of puberty may play a role in this, says Straker.
However, the gender difference may also be that females have lower pain tolerance and thresholds and self-report pain more readily.