Backpack safety for kids

Over 95% of students carry backpacks in Australia.  About 50% of those students carry more than the recommended weight in those packs!  Children and teens continue to rely on backpacks to carry books and personal belongings.

Each year we see more and more children complaining of headaches, neck and shoulder pain.  Studies have shown a direct connection to these complaints and overloaded and ill-fitted backpacks.  The body has to compensate for the change in its Center of Gravity caused by the backpack’s added weight.  The spine in particular, can be affected, as it twists and bends to reposition this added backpack weight.Improper use of a backpack, especially one that’s too heavy or worn incorrectly, can lead to poor posture. Children’s spines are still developing, and carrying excessive weight or carrying it unevenly can cause strain on their back and shoulders. This strain can lead to long-term musculoskeletal issues.


Even though there is debate over causes of Scoliosis, one common agreement is that Scoliosis can be caused from consistently overloading a spine.  The overload is often in an uneven pattern and can further irritate the spine.  Once Scoliosis occurs in a child it can be very difficult to deal with and correct.  The smartest way to deal with it is to prevent it by not loading a spine abnormally and by having regular spinal checkups by your family Chiropractor to ensure proper spinal function.

Another problem associated with backpack overload is a condition called “RUCKSACK PALSY”.  A heavily loaded backpack causes the shoulder straps to compress delicate nerves, arteries and veins passing underneath.  This can lead to numbness and tingling in the arms.

The Australian Chiropractor’s Association has a Back-to-School campaign great tips to ensure your child packs their bag correctly: Here are some tips on how:

  • Only pack essentials to lessen the load, perhaps use school lockers if available.
  • Pack the heaviest items closest to the spine and make sure all zippers are done up all the way.
  • Secure the sternum and waist straps (they’re there for a reason).
  • Always wear both straps.
  • Reduce the time spent wearing the backpack to no more than 30 minutes at any one time.

The backpack that has the CAA tick of approval is the Spartan Chiropak II.

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