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Trading Backpacks For Rolling Luggage Fails in German Primary School Study

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Trading Backpacks For Rolling Luggage Fails in German Primary School Study

The Chiro.Org Blog

It’s well understood that heavy backpacks are taking a heavy toll (excuse the pun!) on adolescent spines. [1] A recent standing magnetic resonance imaging study by the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California, at San Diego revealed that: “Increasing backpack loads significantly compressed lumbar disc heights measured in the midline sagittal plane” and that: “student subjects reported significant increases in back pain, associated with increasing backpack loads from 4, to 8, and finally to 12 kgs of carried weight”.

The most recent novel study was performed with German primary school children. [2] The researchers wanted to determine whether giving the children rolling luggage to carry their school books might reduce spinal stress. As it turns out, what might work well for Mom at the airport does not work so well for Junior, lugging his books across uneven sidewalks on the way to school. The authors had to conclude that: “This suggests that school children should use backpacks rather than trolleys when the weight is within recommended limits”.


1. The Backpacks and Children Page

2. Comparison of the Posture of School Children Carrying Backpacks Versus Pulling Them on Trolleys
Clinical Chiropractic 2010 (Dec); 13 (4): 253–260

About the Author:

I was introduced to Chiro.Org in early 1996, where my friend Joe Garolis helped me learn HTML, the "mark-up language" for websites. We have been fortunate that journals like JMPT have given us permission to reproduce some early important articles in Full-Text format. Maintaining the Org website has been, and remains, my favorite hobby.


  1. Maine Chiropractor December 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I would like to know why primary school children have to carry so many books!

  2. To me it’s quite clear the rolling luggage is much better for the spine, particularly if the person using it doesn’t always pull with the same hand. Maybe other studies should be done in areas with smoother sidewalks!

  3. Maine Chiropractor December 26, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I have a kid sister who is 20 years younger than me. The amount of work that is sent home with kids is insane compared to when I was that age. Standardized test scores haven’t improved with all of the extra work load. Where is the logic? They don’t need to carry all of these books home every day!

  4. seattle chiropractor December 27, 2010 at 2:58 am

    My daughter’s school now has the heavier books available online, so she can leave her math and social studies books at school and access them online for homework.

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