February 24


Get your happy back at University and school with a good fitting backpack

By campuschiropractic

February 24, 2016

Get your happy back at University and school with a good fitting backpack 

As you get ready to go back to University or as your school kids are settling into the school year, Dr Jeremy Hammond would like to provide you with some important tips on how you or your child can correctly carry a backpack and prevent long term spinal damage.

An in-field observational study conducted by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) of more than 340 school children on high-traffic school commute routes in late 2011, revealed 90% of school children have bad posture when carrying their bags which could result in spinal damage, while 75% are not using their backpack’s ergonomic features to prevent such damage.

Dr Jeremy Hammond said, “Heavy weight carried in backpacks can cause muscle strain, irritation, negative postural changes and injury, which can lead to adult back pain and spinal disorders, particularly after carrying a heavily loaded backpack for twelve years or more of schooling. Many of the current bags children use may be fashionable, but unless they allow for even distribution across the back, they can cause tremendous discomfort.”

Findings published in the Australian Spine journal stated the weight of the average backpack is often heavier, proportionally, than the legal load-bearing limit for adults. Another international study revealed, daily backpack carrying is a frequent cause of discomfort for school children. School backpacks were felt to be heavy by 79.1% of children, to cause fatigue by 65.7%, and to cause back pain by 46.1%[1].

School can be a challenging time for children, so ensuring they are as comfortable as possible is important for their physical and mental development. Even someone bigger than a school child such as a young adult can be challenged by the strain of their bag while going to University.

Backpack Tips to Get Your Happy Back at University and School!

Tips for carrying heavy backpacks

  • Backpacks should be ideally no heavier than 10% of a student's weight when packed.
  • Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized - no wider than the student's chest
  • Put comfort and fit at the top of the priority list, rather than good looks
  • Choose a backpack with broad, padded shoulder straps
  • Use both shoulder straps - never sling the pack over one shoulder
  • Use waist straps attached - they are there for a good reason
  • Don't wear the backpack any lower than the hollow of the lower back
  • Don't overload the backpack - use school lockers and plan homework well in advance
  • Place all heavy items at the base of the pack, close to the spine, for a better distribution of the weight


Chiropak Backpack

The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) together with Spartan School Supplies and Macquarie University (NSW), joined forces to research and develop the ‘Chiropak’. This durable, functional and comfortable backpack is proven to reduce the incidence and severity of neck and back pain associated with the carriage of heavy loads. Find out more about the Spartan Chiropak at www.bit.ly/CAAChiropak

[1] Negrini, S., & Carabalona, R (2002). Backpacks on! Schoolchildren's Perceptions of Load, Associations with Back Pain and Factors Determing the Load. Spine, 27(2), 187-195.


About the author

Campus Chiropractic & Wellness is as natural health clinic on the campus of the University of Sydney. The main services are chiropractic & remedial massage. Its current location was established in 2011 after Dr Jeremy Hammond, chiropractor, had already provided chiropractic on campus for 11 years.

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