Backpack Warrant of Fitness


Back pain and spinal disorders in adulthood may stem from childhood activities such as carrying a heavily loaded backpack for the twelve or more years of schooling. While school bags may be a fashionable item, unless they allow for even distribution across the back, they can cause pain and postural stressors to our children’s developing bodies.

Talk to one of our chiropractors if your child has been complaining of a sore back. Research has shown that chiropractic care is effective at restoring correct function and relieving pain with the carrying of heavy backpacks. 

In the meantime, be proactive about your child’s spinal health and follow these tips when choosing and packing your child’s backpack:


First and foremost, it’s important to choose a backpack that fits your child properly. The height of the backpack should extend from approximately 5cm below the top of the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist – it should not sag below the buttocks or pull the child backwards. The straps should be adjusted so that the backpack fits snugly against the child’s back. It’s also a good idea to utilise chest or waist straps if the bag has them.


Children should never carry more than 10% of their body weight in their backpack. Use your bathroom scales to check, as you’ll be surprised at how quickly the weight of books, laptops and lunch accumulates!


Backpacks should have wide, well-padded shoulder straps that can be worn on both shoulders so the weight can be evenly distributed. Encourage your child to use both straps and avoid hanging the bag from one shoulder as this causes increased stress on the spine. A padded back will make it more comfortable to wear across both shoulders as well.


When packing a backpack, it’s important to distribute the weight evenly. This means packing heavier items closer to the child’s back, rather than at the bottom of the backpack where they can pull the child backward. It’s also a good idea to use all of the pockets and compartments in the backpack to distribute the weight more evenly.


Help your child to be organised and only carry what they need. If lockers are available, encourage the use of these throughout the day instead of carrying everything with them.

Our chiropractors are happy to provide a free backpack WOF for your child. Simply bring their backpack in at their next visit and they can provide you advice on the backpack’s set-up. For a video from Dr. Emma explaining the main points of correct backpack use for kids click here.

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