New school year, new books and new backpacks! How exciting! Every one of us loves a fancy looking bag but what we forget is in an effort to keep up with trends, we make our backs endure quite a bit of stress and strain.

Let’s take recent research for instance. Did you know that around 70% of Australian school children suffer from school bag related pain especially around the shoulder and lower back regions? Recently for instance, 37% children aged between 11-14 years of age, have been to a physiotherapist for back pain caused by carrying heavy bags. 61% kids aged between 12-17 years were reported to carry more than 10% of their body weight in backpacks. That in my mind is a significantly high number and very disturbing indeed.

Choosing the right bag…

Choose a bag with:

  • Broad shoulder straps and straps that go over the hip to equally distribute the weight across the body.
  • Padded back with adjustable straps to adjust the length of the bag.
  • Don’t buy a bag thinking your child will eventually grow into it, buy something that fits.
  • The bag should have multiple sections so that the weight of the books can be equally distributed throughout the bag.

Adjusting it right...

  • Adjust the straps so that the base of the bag is in line with base of the spine.
  • Keep the load close to the spine, pack the heaviest items close to the spine.
  • Wear both straps at all times to help equally distribute the weight.
  • Back packs should always weigh less than 10% of your child’s body weight.
  • Encourage your child to be organized when packing their bag for school – check their timetable to ensure they are only carrying what they need.


So let’s make it right and have an injury free year! Good luck to everybody for the new school year!



Statistics and information is courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (

Picture courtesy