Students of their body weight on average.

Students carry backpacks that weigh approximately 46% of their body weight on average. It is evident that postural compensations are required to maintain balance and variability in movement. Postural compensations can include forward head lean, change in pelvic positions and gait patterns. This study assesses the effects of backpack load on the craniovertebral angle (forward head posture) on children and the subjective complaints of “pain” following a 6 minute walk. 11 elementary students aged 8 to 11 participated in the study; comprising of 8 females and 3 males. Participants with systemic illness, history of lower back pain or any neurological degenerative disorders were excluded from the study. The craniovertebral angle was measured through digital photography and reflective markers. The subjects complaint of “pain” was measured using a visual analog scale; 0 – no pain and 10 – high intensity pain. Each subject was randomly assigned a load of 10%, 15% or 20% of their body weight. The subject was photographed 3 times per data collection; standing normally, initial placement of the backpack and after walking 6 minutes. To maintain consistency, the backpack comprised of two straps that aligned the top of the subject’s shoulders. RESULTS: significant changes in the craniovertebral angle was noted in the initial loading of the 15% and 20% backpack loads. However, after walking 6 minutes, the forward head posture was identical across all 3 backpack loads. As well, pain in the neck and back was evident across all 3 loads, particularly after walking. The 20% backpack load directly decreased the craniovertebral angle as opposed to the 10% and 15% load which required a walking condition to do so. The weight and condition of a backpack significantly increases a child’s risk of back, neck and shoulder soreness; poor alignment of the developing spine and predispose children to skeletal injuries.