Heavy School Bags and Posture

Those heavy school bags!

Read on to learn about some of the health risks that heavy backpacks place on children’s spines and for helpful tips on how to ‘lighten the load’. There is a lot to pack into school bags these days, such as text books for every subject, note pads, lunch, a change of clothes and often a laptop or tablet device.

Heavy books and bags can place a heavy load on a child’s back and put at risk the development of a strong and healthy spine.

All that pressure, day in and day out, may cause postural issues that may manifest as a ‘health crisis’ later in life.

Follow this general rule as a guide. The maximum weight of a bag should be equivalent to 10% of the student’s body weight. For an average student weighing 50kg the school bag should weigh in at 4-5kg tops.


There are both immediate impacts and longer term health consequences associated with heavy school bags.

  • lifting heavy bags places strain on the back and spine
  • wearing a bag strap over only one shoulder can create postural inbalances
  • the longer the child carries the heavy load, the more severe the damage may be in later life
  • back pain and tight muscles can result from repetitive strain injury
  • uneven or ‘drop shoulder’ posture can develop
  • many of these postural issues are preventable. It’s later in life that back pain, headaches and scoliosis can set in as a result of years of poor posture (among many other factors).


The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia recommends the following:

  • maximum bag weight should not exceed 10% of a child’s weight when packed
  • make sure the bag is appropriately sized to the individual – no wider than the student’s chest
  • prioritise comfort and fit over style, trends and colour
  • look for broad, padded shoulders and waist straps to more evenly distribute weight
  • pack the heaviest items in first, and closest to the spine
  • don’t over load the bags, or consider leaving items at school on different days of the week

The back pack should be positioned high on the back

As a chiropractor, many of the health problems I adjust for are preventable. Young bodies have a remarkable ability to heal and bounce back from injury. Despite this, postural misalignments caused by heavy bags may only get worse if left untreated.

Chiropractic may just set your child up for great health and success in the future!

Approximately 200,000 Australians visit their local Doctor of Chiropractic each week and enjoy the many benefits associated with regular adjustments.


To book a chiropractic consultation at New World Chiro please phone or email us today.

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