How to choose the correct school bag

Children often have to carry many books, lunch and sports clothes and equipment around with them at school. This added load can often lead to strain on the developing spine, and therefore increase the risk of developing spinal injury.

It is important for parents to help their children understand the importance of carrying their bags correctly and maintaining a posture that is as close to optimum as possible.


Follow the pointers below:

  • A back pack that can be worn over both shoulders is better than a carry bag, or wearing a bag over one shoulder.       A wheelie bag is also a great option.
  • The back pack should have wide, padded, adjustable straps.
  • Padding along the back of the back pack ( the part that rests on the child’s back) cushions the back from the items in the pack.
  • The back pack should sit snugly along the curve of the spine, between the shoulders and the lower back.
  • An added strap around the midriff is ideal.
  • Pack the bag correctly – heaviest items closest to the body, and the weight must be evenly distributed across the bag. The back pack should not weigh more than 15% of the child’s body weight.
  • Carry the bag with equal weight across the back.
  • If your child has to carry extra luggage or sports equipment, teach them to distribute the weight equally in each hand. For example the hockey stick in one hand and sports bag in the other.
  • Try to get your child to stand upright, rather than lean forward to try to compensate for the weight on the back. An upright posture allows the joints in the spine to sit in their neutral position and therefore reduce the strain on the joints.
  • When your children are standing or sitting (even at home) encourage them to sit upright so that the ear, shoulder and hips are in roughly the same line. If they form the habit of sitting and standing correctly from a young age, the chances of developing poor posture and spinal injury are decreased.

                                                                       Written By

                                                             Dr Helen Schlebusch,