Backpack Beware: Have you screened your child’s backpack?

Looking around at school kids today, I find myself wondering…when did the backpack get bigger than the kid?

When it looks it looks like a giant backpack floating around on two legs, it’s a wonder how they don’t just fall over and if they do…how on earth do they get up again?!
backpack overload

With backpacks twice as wide as their chest width and loaded up with school books, iPads/laptops, lunch boxes, sporting equipment and whatever else they might be able to stuff inside…it’s not too far-fetched a question!

Looking like a floating school bag with legs is one thing but what an overloaded backpack is doing to your child’s body is definitely not funny!

School-aged children only really have one job — to GROW! Placing heavy imbalanced loads onto a growing body can lead to more than just growing pains! Much of the skeletal development occurs while your kids are school-aged. Overloading the body, particularly during this growth phase, can lead to premature neck and back pain due to the increase in carry-load and the compensatory postural changes your child’s body performs under the strain.

From jutting heads and necks to forward rounding shoulders, flexed forward trunks and grasping twisted forearms the body can find many ways to lug around these educational boulders!

Healthy Spines

 What can you DO:

  • Ensure the backpack is the same width or less than your child’s chest
  • Tighten the arm straps so that the school bag sits above your child’s bottom and flat against the back
  • Ensure that your child is using both straps to balance the load and if available, the waist strap is secured
  • Pack heavy items at the back and bottom of the bag
  • Keep the backpack to under 10% of your child’s body weight!
  • Declutter – carry only the essential items leaving heavy textbooks, sporting equipment and pencil cases at school or home if not needed
  • Come in for a postural screening to assess your child’s spinal health!



Our team at Hands on Health Care is happy to provide FREE postural screening and backpack assessments for your school kids!

Call Hands on Health Care at (02) 9949 3017 or go online at to book your next appointment!

For a more in-depth blog post regarding school bags and spinal health, check out the awesome article written March 2017 by the Australian Spinal Research Foundation. Interestingly, they also recommended Chiropractors for the management of spinal overload or musculoskeletal discomfort in kids due to heavy backpacks.

April 16, 2018
Katie MacRae