Backpack Safety for Kids


Backpack Safety for Kids – An Important Message to all Parents! As thousands of school children head to school each morning, the issue of backpack safety for kids in Perth confronts us. Our resident Central City Physiotherapist is calling on all parents to be aware of the potential injuries that carrying heavy backpacks can cause children. Physiotherapists have noticed a disturbing trend amongst children suffering from back pain from a relatively early age compared to earlier generations.

A recent news article released by the American Physical Therapy Association has shown that more than 50 percent of children surveyed carry backpacks that are far too heavy and this tendency seems to also be occurring in private and public schools in Australia.

If a child is carrying an overloaded, heavy backpack or if the backpack is worn incorrectly, the stress created on the spine due to bio-mechanical pressure can cause the child to lean forward creating poor posture which could, in turn lead to pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulder or back region. According to our resident Physio at Central City Physiotherapist these potential injuries can be avoided by being aware of a few basic rules when considering backpack safety for kids in Perth.

One of the most important issues to consider when equipping your child with a backpack is to choose wisely. Ensure that the backpack is equipped with multiple compartments to enable the weight to be distributed more evenly. Also, ensure that the backpack is equipped with 2 wide and well padded straps for comfort and avoid backpacks which only have one strap as this causes uneven weight distribution which can lead to poor posture. Always make sure that the backpack size is suitable for the child; the backpack should sit comfortably close to the body and always rest in the middle of the back, not hang loosely on the buttocks.

Help your child to be more organized when packing their backpack and encourage them to do a daily clean out, leaving things that are not needed at home or in the locker. Remember, less weight is always better. Our physiotherapist strongly recommends that children carry bags which are no more than 10-15% of their body weight. For example, if the weight of the child is 50kgs, then the backpack weight should be no more than 7kgs to avoid risk of injury.

Always pay attention to your child’s posture. Slouching or leaning over to one side could indicate that the backpack is overloaded and too heavy. Symptoms such as pain, tingling or numbness can be evident if your child is straining to carry a backpack that is far too heavy for their body weight. If any of these symptoms are evident consult your physio immediately for a thorough examination.

Remember if you have any doubts that your child is wearing his/her backpack correctly, do not hesitate to call our Central City Physiotherapist. Don’t wait till your child is suffering from shoulder, neck or back pain, which has resulted from carrying or lifting a heavy backpack the wrong way. Our physio will teach your child the right posture and exercises to have a healthy back as well as helping your child to improve and develop stronger muscles.