How heavy is too heavy for your child’s backpack?

This week millions of Australian children will return to school. For most students the experience will be a positive one, as they gain academic and life skills.

But lugging around heavy school bags filled with laptops, text books and sports gear, could be causing damage to your child’s spine. So how much is too much when it comes to the weight of a school bag?

Ideal school bag weight

The ideal maximum weight of the school bag will depend on several factors. The most important factors are: 1) weight and physical fitness of the child; 2) time and distance bag is carried and 3) quality of the backpack.

There is no credible research that definitively states ideal school bag weight, as it is difficult to quantify at what level spinal damage might occur.

However, most guidelines suggest that a fully loaded backpack should be no greater than 10-15% of your child’s body weight. In other words, if your child weighs 40kg, their backpack should weigh no more than 4-6kg.

If your child walks or rides a bike to school, then consider keeping the weight of the bag closer to the 10% mark.

Five tips to reduce school bag strain

  1. Use a backpack that is the right size for your child – the bag should be no lower than the small of the low back and no wider than the chest.
  2. Always use both shoulder straps – these should be broad, padded and adjustable.
  3. Pack the heaviest items close to the spine.
  4. Use school lockers to avoid carrying unnecessary items.
  5. Use sternal straps and waist belts attached to the backpack to keep weight close to spine and help distribute weight more evenly.

Augmented reality app

The Chiropractors’ Association have developed a very cool app that demonstrates correct school bag posture in a 3D hologram. This is impressive, even for our tech savvy children. The app is called Straighten Up and can be downloaded free from iTunes.

It has many great features, including exercises and posture tips. To use the interactive 3D hologram (augmented reality) you will also need the associated postcards. These are available free from our office.


The Chiropractors Association of Australia, together with Spartan School Supplies and Macquarie University, joined forces to research and develop the ‘Chiropak’.

Free Spinal Check

If you have any concerns about your child’s posture or spinal health, you can discuss these issues with one of our chiropractors at a Free Spinal Check. On this visit, we perform a thorough case history and spinal examination. You will receive feedback on how your child’s spine is performing and what you might be able to do to improve their spinal health. No treatment is provided on this visit.

Call our practice today to book in for a Free Spinal Check.