As children return to school, it’s important to look at the fit of your child’s school backpack. Heavy, incorrectly fitted and badly packed bags may contribute to spinal health problems as a child grows.

Current research suggests that children should not carry loads of more than 10 – 15% of their body weight to maintain normal postural alignment. As they get to high school minimising their bag weight to 10-15% can be near impossible. And as we all know, poor posture is one of the quickest ways to develop long-term spinal problems. Heavy and incorrectly worn bags may lead to poor posture, slouching and uneven hips.

If your kids are anything like mine, it’s a challenge to try and make them even wear their backpack correctly, after all 1 shoulder strap looks better then 2!  So, it may come as no surprise that it’s estimated that 90% of back packs are worn incorrectly.  Therefore, the earlier you can instill good backpack wearing technique the better!

What to look for in a backpack: 

  1. Make sure the backpack is the right size for your child, no wider than their chest and no lower than the hollow of their back.
  2. Choose a back pack with broad, padded shoulder straps
  3. A moulded frame on the back is “ideal” (if you can find one) that when adjusted, fits their spine.
  4. A bag made from a light weight material like canvas.
  5. Adjustable waist and sternum straps.
  6. Separate compartments that allow for easy packing and weight distribution.

How to carry the backpack in a ‘spine safe’ way:

  1. Ensure that the weight of the backpack is no more than 10-15% of your child’s weight when packed. Only pack essentials to lessen the load, perhaps use school lockers if available.
  2. Pack the heaviest items closest to the spine and make sure all zippers are done up all the way.
  3. Secure the sternum and waist straps (they’re there for a reason).
  4. Always wear both straps. Tell the kids it’s not cool to ‘one strap it’ anymore.
  5. Reduce the time spent wearing the backpack to no more than 30 minutes at any one time.
  6. Bend at the knees when picking up the backpack.

If you’re looking for a backpack that ticks all the boxes above, the Australian Chiropractors Association and the Australian Physiotherapy Association together with Spartan School Supplies have developed backpacks designed to reduce the incidence and severity of neck and back pain associated with carrying heavy loads. You can find more information by visiting

If your worried about your child’s posture or would like advice on the right backpack or even how to adjust the one you already have, give us a call at Tweed Coast Chiropractic 02667 44032 or contact us via our website.


Backpack Posture