Backpack safety for School Children

For a child going to school, in a day and age like this it is turning out to to be a burden on the body, especially with heavy school bags.

Many researches have shown that a school going child starts developing back pain and musculoskeletal problems earlier especially if they tend to carry a heavy school bag. Why is it so important for us adults to look into this issue? Most studies show that pain that is caused in adult life actually starts from childhood, because that is when our bones and muscles are developing and are more prone to damage.

The image above is a very normal looking day to day picture we see, kids going to school. But can you see what is wrong with the picture? The girl looks like she can hardly be carrying such a heavy bag pack.

Research has shown the average weight of bag should be no more than 10% of the childs weight, however the normal scenario kids carry bag packs which weigh 20% of their body weight, almost double of what they are suppose to carry. So what will happen if they carry this weight day in day out 5 days a week for the whole year?

Health Issues

  • Back, neck and shoulder pain is the first to start
  • Tingling or even numbness can be present after a long day of carrying heavy bags
  • Tiredness and posture problems
  • Forward curved spine if the bag pack is carried on both shoulders
  • High risk of scoliosis if bag pack is carried on 1 shoulder
  • Reduced breathing as the lungs get compressed
  • Stunted or abnormal growth of the spine

What steps should be taken to prevent this?

As the adult it is your responsibility to check your child’s bag and posture to see if incorrect etc. This all starts at home with developing good habits. Working together with the school is important so the weight of books can be minimised.

So what can you do?

Here are some simple tips that will go a long way.

  • Make sure you invest in a good bag pack which has adjustable straps, has well padded shoulder straps, and is ergonomically designed.
  • Get your child to pack his/her bag pack every night before going to school, remove all unnecessary things which will not be needed for the day.
  • Make sure your child puts both the straps on and not just one.
  • After all this is done then ask your child to put on the bag pack and check how their posture is, if the are hunched forwards then try and remove more books.

If nothing else works and your child still complains of pains, talk to other parents and see if their children have the same issue, if they do go as a group of parents to the school, ask them to get lockers in the school or find other solutions that will work in favor of the children.


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Karishma Jhaveri

Karishma Jhaveri

Physiotherapist at Physio Savvy
Karishma completed her Bachelors in Physiotherapy from Manipal, India and has also completed Mulligan therapy certificaion. In Manipal Hospital, she worked for 3 years in clinical placement under several areas including diabetic clinic, pediatric wards, burns ICU and cardiac ICU. She then continued working in Mumbai under the President of Indian Association of physiotherapy Dr Ali Irani. Her work also includes health surveys in India for WHO in rural parts near Manipal, and she has taken a special interest in working with children.
Karishma Jhaveri

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