Back pain is common in adolescents which has been associated with carrying a bag. However, there is little research examining the effects of bag style in female adolescents. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of different bag conditions on muscle activity of the trapezius, erector spinae and latissimus dorsi muscles in female university students during walking. Twelve female university students walked on a treadmill for 5 minutes at 1.1 m/s during five conditions; control, 1 strapped rucksack, 2 strapped rucksack, ipsilateral shoulder strap and contralateral shoulder strap, each containing 10% bodyweight. Electromyography for the trapezius, erector spinae and latissimus dorsi was recorded for the last 30 s of each condition. Two-way ANOVA and paired t-tests were used to identify differences between right and left muscles and between bag conditions. Results showed that muscle activity of the left trapezius was significantly higher than the right trapezius during the 1 strap rucksack condition. For the left trapezius, the 2 strapped rucksack and the control condition had significantly lower muscle activity compared to the 1 strapped rucksack and the ipsilateral shoulder strap. For the left erector spinae muscle, there was significantly greater muscle activity when wearing the contralateral shoulder strap compared to the control. For the right erector spinae, significantly lower muscle activity was observed when wearing the 2 strapped rucksack compared to the ipsilateral shoulder strap and contralateral shoulder strap. There were no significant differences in muscle activity of the latissimus dorsi muscles between any of the bag conditions. These findings suggest that a two strapped rucksack should be used when carrying loads to reduce spinal muscle activity which may, in turn, reduce reports of back pain in female adolescents.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.