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School a pain in the back

Updated on December 19, 2008

Heavy school bags = a pain in the back


With school bags becoming so heavy it is important that it is worn in the correct way to help minimize low back pain. The prevalence of low back pain in the paediatric population has been estimated by a number of recent epidemiological studies to affect 50% of children between 4 and 20 years of age, with a peak initial episode occurring between 14 and 16 years of age. (1) It is estimated that the prevalence back pain in children could be the same as in adults.(2)

As a chiropractor the majority of spinal problems we see in school children are caused by heavy, incorrectly fitted backpacks, poor posture and playground injuries. The body's growth plates do not close until 18-22 years of age, so any musculoskeletal injuries occurring over the twelve or more years of schooling can affect the long term spinal health of our children.(3)

Chiropractors advise to use a traditional backpack worn correctly close to the body.

The following tips may be useful for your school aged children

  • Ensure children carry no more than 10% of their body weight in their backpacks

  • Wear your bag over both shoulders

  • Pack heaviest items closest to your back

  • Pack only what you need

  • Ensure student's feet are positioned firmly on the floor when seated

  • Offer students regular scoliosis screenings as a school initiative to minimise future risk

  • Provide children with an ergonomically designed desk and chair and encourage them to use it. If they do need to use the kitchen table for study, clear plenty of space and provide a footstool to prevent their feet from dangling.

  • Children should warm up before exercising on the sports field, and gently go through the actions of the sport they are about to perform to prepare their spines for exercise.(3)

Bad study habits can affect the long term

spinal development of students.

A chiropractic postural and spinal assessment

can easily determine whether there are any

problems and how they can be corrected.

Chiropractic care has been proven to be extremely effective, and can restore correct function and relieve pain symptoms associated with the carrying of heavy backpacks.

Chiropractic possess and excellent safety record, and is widely recognized as the expert profession on spinal health care. (4)


  • (1) Davies N J 2000 Chiropractic Pediatrics Churchill Livingstone


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