Back To School- Choosing the right backpack for your child

Posted January 27th, 2011 by Kirrian Steer and filed in Uncategorized

Around 70% of Australian school children may be damaging their spines by carrying schoolbags. A 12 year period of wearing a schoolbag incorrectly or wearing a bag which is too heavy for the child may lead to an increased risk of muscle strain and postural changes; including change of the natural ‘S’ curve or rounded shoulders.

The main causes of increased risk of spinal injury due to backpacks include; carrying a backpack over one shoulder or in one hand by the straps, carrying a backpack that weighs more than 10% of a child’s bodyweight and over packing or incorrectly packing a schoolbag.

When deciding on the right school bag for your child, look for:

-          Backpacks endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Australian Osteopathic  Association or Chiropractic Association of Australia

-          A backpack that is the appropriate size for your child

-          A bag with a moulded frame and hip strap to distribute the load of  the bag through the child’s pelvis and not their spine and shoulders

-          A backpack which is padded for comfort with adjustable shoulder straps

-          A bag with multiple compartments to ensure packing of the bag is distributed evenly throughout

Correctly packing the bag:

-          The schoolbag should weigh less than 10% of your child’s body weight when fully packed

-          Pack heaviest items closest to their back so that the child’s centre of gravity is not disturbed significantly

Carrying the backpack correctly:

-          Adjust the backpack so the pack sits just above the child’s waist to ensure the weight of the pack is distributed through the child’s pelvis and not the spine and shoulders

-          The child should lift their pack up with a straight back and bent knees , using their thigh muscles

-          Children should never carry the backpack on one shoulder as it may cause pain and lead to injury

Other ways to ensure the backpack isn’t too heavy:

-          Encourage if available the child to utilize the lockers at their school and only bring home necessary textbooks for homework

-          Regularly clean out backpacks of unnecessary items

-          If your child complains or is fatigued from carrying their backpack discuss with the school if there is any options for lightening their backpack load