Is child back pain really linked to school bags?

I picked up an interesting story on the excellent NHS Behind the Headlines blog.

It relates to a news story in the Telegraph linking back pain in children to carrying heavy school bags. The story was based on a study of over 1,400 Spanish schoolchildren.

“It found that over half the children had backpacks exceeding 10% of their body weight. The study also found that those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% higher risk of back pain than those carrying the lightest, and a 42% higher risk of diagnosed back problems”

The NHS blog exists to dig deeper into the science behind the stories and always does a great job. This time they found some issues with the survey findings. Most notabley:

“It did not properly take account of other factors which might contribute to back problems in children, including a sedentary lifestyle and poor muscle tone.”

I think this is bang on. Focusing on the heavy bags is missing the bigger issue. A lack of general movement and way too much sitting is ruining the posture and physical alignment of children – add a heavy carry into that situation and it’s no wonder people are getting hurt.

The full analysis is here.


Current training – March 2012

Our new baby is finally here, hence the break from posting. She’s a real joy and having two kids around the house is great.

I outlined a template a while back for training once she arrived, but (as is often the way) am not following it exactly.

Like last month my focus is still on handbalancing and basic gymnastics but the format has changed. I’m doing handstands every session, followed by a circuit of three exercises. The circuits have an upper body focus on Monday and Friday and lower on Wednesday.

I’m done and dusted in around 30 minutes.

The upper/lower split is an experiment as heavy, full body sessions plus not much sleep was leaving me pretty tired. Hopefully this will make recovery easier as this combination of exercises is great.

Warm up – every session

  • A1: Joint mobility
  • B1: L-sit – 10sec
  • B2: Chin up – >10
  • B3: Assisted pistol (alternating) – >10 (easy)

A1 then 2 rounds of B1-3


  • A1: Face the wall HS – 8 x 20-30sec
  • B1: Back lever (straddle) – 5sec
  • B2: Press HeS (pike) – 5
  • B3: Front lever row (tucked) – 5

A1 then 3 rounds of B1-3


  • A1: Face the wall HS – 8 x 20-30sec
  • B1: Assisted  pistol (alternating) – >10
  • B2: GHR – 5
  • B3: Sled push* – 5

A1 then 3 rounds of B1-3


  • A1: Face the wall HS – 8 x 20-30sec
  • B1: Back lever (adv tuck) – 12sec
  • B2: Pseudo planche push up – 5-8
  • B3: Assisted one arm chin ups – 1-3R/L

A1 then 3 rounds of B1-3

*sled push may be over playing this slightly – I strap a kettlebell to a cushion and push it around the wood floor. It does the job though.