Going Safely Back to School

Did you know that more than 50% of children experience at least one episode of lower back pain by the time they are in their teens?

Research strongly suggests that ill fitting school backpacks are the most likely cause.


Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly distributed can result in poor posture, and in some cases may even distort the spine, throwing it out of alignment. Misalignment of the spine can also cause:

  • Muscle strain
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Arm pain

For example: A heavy backpack carried on one shoulder, forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the mid and lower back, and may increase the likelihood of back problems later in life.


Here are a few tips from our Chiropractic team to help ensure your child carries their load comfortably and safely.

Choosing the right backpack

  • Ensure the backpack is made of vinyl or canvas (leather should be avoided as it is too heavy)
  • Ensure the backpack has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps
  • Ensure the backpack has a waist strap
  • Ensure the backpack has a padded back with adjustable aluminum inserts that can be molded to the shape of your child’s spine.
  • Ensure the backpack has lots of pockets, this allows for even weight distribution
  • Ensure the backpack fits your child properly (isn’t too tight under the arms, and its size is proportionate to your child)

Packing it properly

The total weight of a your child’s backpack should be no greater than 10% - 15% of their body weight.

  • Ensure your child’s backpack contains only what is needed for that day
  • Ensure the heaviest objects are packed close to your child’s body
  • Ensure bumpy or odd shaped items are packed on the outside, away from your child’s body

Putting the backpack on

We advise you take the time to teach your child the importance of wearing their backpack correctly from a young age.

  1. Put the backpack on a flat surface, at waist height
  2. Slip the backpack on, one shoulder at a time
  3. Adjust the straps to fit comfortably
  4. Remember when lifting the backpack, to lift using your arms and legs and to always bend at the knees

The right way to wear a backpack

  • Both shoulder straps should always be worn and adjusted so the pack fits snugly to your child’s body
  • A backpack should never be worn on one shoulder, no matter how light the bag or its contents
  • The waist strap should also we worn for added stability

Highett Health and Wellness are so committed to improving the health of our children that we offer a FREE spinal health check and school backpack fitting to all children.

To schedule your child for a FREE assessment contact us today

Make an appointment today.

Contact us on 03 9585 8552