CHILDREN may be damaging their health by carrying school bags that are too heavy.

Experts at the British Osteopathic Association (BOA) said over-filled bags and rucksacks, which are often carried over just one shoulder, can lead to bad posture and back problems.

They warned the heavy bags put pressure on discs between the vertebrae which can lead to long-term back pain in small, developing bodies.

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Children can also suffer muscular pain, headaches, tingling and numbness in the arms and legs and even mobility problems.

Glasgow osteopath Michael Aitken, chairman of the Scottish Osteopathic Society, said: “It’s something we are seeing increasingly. School bags are getting heavier all the time and they tend to be worn on one shoulder. Even if it’s a rucksack children still tend to wear it on one side because that is what is fashionable.

“This results in the spine becoming a bit lopsided temporarily as children tend to lift one shoulder to carry the weight.

“This is at a point when they are still growing and it can often lead to muscle problems.

“The best advice I can give is to not carry so much weight. Just take what you need for each day, distribute weight evenly and wear the rucksack properly.”

The BOA has also called for more lockers in schools so that youngsters don’t have to carry so many books and equipment.

BOA member Michael Brown, from Cram Osteopaths in Glasgow, added: “Children should never carry more than 15% of their own body weight.”

He emphasised the importance of distributing the weight and said: “Heavier items on the outside of the bag throw the child’s centre of gravity out of balance. This leads to bad posture and increases the chances of back strain.”

Eleanor Conner, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: “The fashions is to have backpacks worn on one shoulder and this can lead to discomfort and pain if there are too many heavy books in there.”

The BOA also warned that high-heel shoes and flat pumps can cause problems for girls.

High heels can contribute to knee and back problems, while flat shoes can cause pain in the soles of the feet.

Mr Brown added: “Wearing the same type of shoe all the time can force your foot into an unnatural position. The answer is to change your style of shoes regularly and avoid the extremes – don’t wear heels that are too high or shoes that are too flat.”