Healthy Children and School Bag Weight

Cheyne Thompson Child Care, Lifestyle Health

A concerned Mum recently asked me,

"how heavy should children’s school bags should be?"

Caring Mother

It’s a great question! You may also be wondering how school bags impact on your child’s health.

When your child’s bag is too heavy, it can cause back pain, changes to the natural curves of the spine, rounded shoulders, muscle strain and/or fatigue.

Ideally, back packs should weigh less than 10% of your child’s weight.

So How Can You Help?

  • Check with your teacher to see what books etc your child NEEDS to bring home
  • Clean out their bag regularly to make sure they aren’t carrying thing they don’t need.
  • Icon List Item 3

What Type of Bag is Best?

Rolling bags that have wheels and an extendable handle are an option but they still need to be lifted and may create a trip hazard. Back packs, when used correctly still seem to be the best option.

What should I look for in a back pack?

  • Make sure the back pack is the right size for your child. A bag that is too large doesn’t distribute the weight through their backs properly. The shoulder straps should be adjusted so that the bottom of the bag is just above your child’s waist.
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • A moulded frame and/or adjustable hip straps allows the weight in the bag to rest on the pelvis, not their shoulders or spine.
  • Allow your child to help choose their bag to help cope with peer pressure or fashion issues. This can reduce the chances of your child carrying the back incorrectly to be ‘cool’, eg on one shoulder.
  • A back pack endorsed by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia or the Australian Physiotherapy Association. They have checked to make sure the bag protects your child’s spine when used correctly.

"Ideally, back packs should weigh less than 10% of your child’s weight."

Dr Cheyne Thompson

How do you use a back pack properly?

  • Wear it on both shoulders.
  • It should contour your child’s back, not hang from their shoulders.
  • Pack the heavy items first, so they are at the bottom.
  • Try to load and unload it onto their back from bench height to prevent twisting their spine. It shouldn’t be difficult for them to put on or off.
  • Their posture shouldn’t change when they carry their bag.
  • Look out for pain, numbness, tingling or red marks on their skin caused by the bag.

If your child complain of any of the symptoms discussed here, see your chiropractor or health care professional. Here at Clayfield Chiropractic, we are happy to check your child’s bag for you. Bring it along to your next appointment!

Hint: You can do so at the bottom of this page.

Hint: You can do so at the bottom of this page.

References

Heavy School Bags, Health, Safety and Wellbeing, http://education.qld.gov.au/health/pdfs/healthsafety/factsheet_hevbags.pdf

Avoiding Injuries from School Bags and Computers, http://www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/wellbeing/health/ways-to-keep-your-childs-back-and-posture-healthy

Cheyne Thompson

Author: Cheyne Thompson

Cheyne graduated from Sydney College of Chiropractic and Osteopathy in 1984. She also has postgraduate qualifications in paediatric chiropractic care. Before joining Clayfield Chiropractic Clinic in 1993, Cheyne enjoyed seven years in a Sydney based practice. Cheyne has three children and 2 grandchildren.