Choosing the Right School Bag

children with ergonomic school backpacks

What to look for when buying a new school bag

Ergonomic back packs best suit children entering school and returning to primary school. To find the right school bag that’s best in size and fit, here is what to look for:

  • Light-weight material or made from canvas
  • A moulded frame which, conforms to your child’s back and can be adjusted correctly
  • No wider than the child’s chest
  • Sits no higher than 3 cm above their shoulders
  • They should be able to look up to the ceiling without their head hitting the bag
  • Adjustable straps at the hips and across the chest; padded for extra comfort
  • Compartments that allow for easy packing.

How to wear a backpack to avoid back or shoulder pain

  • Both shoulder straps should always be used to help distribute the weight evenly on your child’s back
  • Wearing waist straps will also help
  • The shoulder straps should be adjusted so that the bottom of the bag sits around the child’s waist – to help do this trace a line from their belly button around to their back, the bottom of the bag should sit around there.  * Don’t wear the backpack below the small of the back.
  • The bag should contour to your child’s back
  • The bag should not swing from side to side when your child is moving around
  • The bag should not hang out from the shoulders.

Ideally, a school bag should weigh less than 10 per cent of the child’s body weight. For instance, a child weighing 40kg should carry 2-3kg, and 4kg at the very most.

Your child’s bag is only the best school bag if it’s used the right way

  • Encourage your child to always wear their school bag with both shoulder straps. Wearing a bag with only one shoulder strap curves the spine unnaturally, putting stress on the whole body.
  • Take the time with your child to show them how to wear their backpack correctly.
  • Regularly check with them to see if the bag is comfortable, or if they are in any kind of pain.
If your child does complain of neck or shoulder pain, it is a good idea to take your child to an Osteopath for an assessment. The school bag may not be the only potential source of discomfort.

You can view our other tips on Back Care here.


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