Back pain in school-aged children can be prevented and avoided simply by having the correct size school bag and correct packing technique. According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association approximately 70% of school aged children will suffer back pain from poorly fitted school bags. Other causes of back pain in children can be caused by poor posture, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle, soft tissues injuries (sprains and strains) or from competitive sporting demands. Just like buying school uniforms and school shoes it is just as important to ensure your child’s backpack fits them properly.
Tips for buying a school backpack
- Your child’s backpack should weigh less than 10% of their body weight
- Your child’s backpack should be no wider than their chest and the length no longer than their hips
- A thick shoulder strap will ensure a comfortable and snug fit onto the shoulder
- A backpack with separate compartments is ideal for load distribution. The heavier loads should be closest to the spine (e.g. laptops, heavy books).
- Waist and chest straps are ideal to help transfer load from spine to hips and pelvis
- Avoid one-strapped or messenger style bags
What about trolley bags or suitcases?We would not recommend this bag as an alternative for students with back problems. These bags often weigh a lot more and are not easy to manipulate around stairs and on buses etc. The action of pulling these bags is difficult to perform without twisting the spine and can cause uneven load distribution through the spine.
Correct Lifting and Carrying TechniquesAdjust straps to ensure back pack fits firmly onto the spine. The bottom of the back pack should sit just above the child waist.
- Lifting the backpack should be performed with a straight back, using leg muscles.
- Ensure that the backpack is worn on both shoulders. Wearing a single strap will alter their centre of gravity and put unnecessary strain through the back.
- Adjust the straps so that the backpack is worn close to the body, but not so tight it is uncomfortable