Purpose: This study investigated the effects of carrying weighted backpacks of up to 20% of body weight on the posture and pain complaints of elementary-school children.
Methods: Craniovertebral, forward trunk lean and pelvic tilt angles were measured from sagittal photographs of 62 children (8-11 years old) before and after walking while carrying backpacks containing 10%, 15%, or 20% of body weight. Pain severity after a 6-minute walk with the loaded backpack was recorded. Subjective complaints of pain were assessed using a visual analog scale after walking.
Results: Repeated-measures ANOVA revealed statistically significant differences in postural angles and increased complaints of pain after walking with increased backpack loads.
Conclusion: These results indicate that typical backpack loads create worsening postural changes due to backpack loads and time spent carrying those loads, putting children at increased risk for injury and pain, the latter of which is a strong predictor for back pain in adulthood.