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Back to School – 7 Tips to lighten the load

The peak of summer is well and truly here. Fresh uniforms, clean shoes and brand new stationary. That time to return to school after a long break has arrived. While parents rush around getting things organised, one thing that is not often given much thought are school bags. As a result, year after year we see a stream of school children present to the clinic with back pain or postural issues.

Many children are at risk of back pain and spinal issues due to incorrectly fitting or poorly packed or overloaded school bags. Carrying a heavy school bag for 13 years of schooling can have a significant effect on the spine into adulthood. Many of the bags that children use do not have even weight distribution across the back, and are overloaded with heavy books, laptops & ipads, musical instruments and sports uniforms. An international study found that 46.1% of school children had back pain due to carrying a heavy backpack daily.

Our physio’s top 7 tips when choosing & carrying a school bag

  • School bags should ideally be no more than 10% of a childs weight when packed
  • Bags should be no wider than the childs chest
  • Bag should have broad padded shoulder straps
  • Always use both straps and avoid carrying bag on one shoulder
  • Bags should not be worn any lower than the small of your back
  • All heavier items such as books and laptops should be at the back of the bag, close to the spine to allow better weight distribution
  • Pack only what you need to avoid carrying excess loads; plan in advance and leave heavy books at home or in school lockers if not needed

If heavy bags are unable to be prevented, having a good fitting and supportive school bag is the next best thing.

Physiotherapists are well positioned to educate parents, teachers and students about spine health. Each year at Seville Health we treat hundreds of school children suffering from back pain and postural issues, as well as conditions such as scoliosis. Much of this pain can be prevented with the correct advice and treatment. Simple stretches and postural strengthening provided by physiotherapists can also help to prevent back and neck pain.

If you are concerned about your childs posture or spine, or if they are suffering from back pain contact our physiotherapists today.

Seville Health, Yarra Valley Physiotherapists – Looking after your childrens health for the long term