How to Make Sure That Your Child Has the Right Backpack for School

There are always a million things to think about when you’re getting your child(ren) ready for school. The right amount of pencils, the right books to take to class, the ironed uniforms and shiny school shoes. One really important aspect of your child’s new year that often doesn’t get much thought is your child’s backpack…

Have you ever considered whether your child has the right backpack to save their back? 

The reason why you are here reading this post might be because it’s your first time looking for a school bag and you want to know what to look for. Or, you might be an experienced or very organised parent and already have a backpack and you’re a little bit unsure about whether you have the right one?

You might not even be thinking about purchasing a new backpack for your child, but now you’re wondering.

If you do already have a backpack for your child, and you’re asking yourself whether you’ve got the right one, here are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to consider getting a new backpack.

 When to get a new backpack 

  • Your child is complaining of neck, back or shoulder pain
  • There are red marks on your children’s shoulders
  • Your child needs to lean forward to carry the backpack
  • The backpack is bigger than your child or the top of the backpack is above the shoulders once sitting down

Okay, so you know some of the signs that might mean that you need to consider a new backpack, but how does one go about deciding what makes a good backpack?

The market is so vast nowadays and it can be a bit overwhelming when deciding which backpack makes the cut.
At Precision Physio, we’ve put together a checklist of things to look out for when you and your child are selecting and using a backpack for the school year, to help minimise any unnecessary strain on your child’s back and the rest of their body.

Backpack Checklist


The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) recommends that the size of your child’s backpack should be sized so that it doesn’t go above the shoulders when sitting down. The straps should be wide and padded, but not so wide that they are falling off the shoulders; this way, they are not digging into your child’s shoulders and leaving red marks!


The weight of backpacks should be distributed across the body. Double strapped backpacks are useful for this, as they distribute the weight much better than single strapped packs/briefcases or backpacks that are made to sling across one shoulder.

Looking after your child’s back doesn’t stop after just buying the backpack!

Loading the backpack in the right way will also assist in minimising stress on your child’s back.

Here are a few tips to help use your backpack:

  • Make sure that heavier items are packed closer to the back of the backpack to ensure that you are distributing the heavier load closer to your body
  • Only carry a relative 10% of body weight in the backpack; one sign that your child is carrying too much is that he/she needs to lean forward to carry the weight
  • Only carry the absolutely necessary books to and from school
  • Fit the bag close to the body and adjust the straps accordingly
  • Use your backpack by using both straps and not just one
  • Consider getting a roller bag or a bag with waist or chest straps to help to support and offload your child’s back – ensure these bags are the right size to avoid overloading!

What if my child still has back/shoulder/neck pain? 

If you’re still a bit unsure, or your child is experiencing neck, shoulder or back pain, we would recommend that you come and check in with our team of Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists in either of our Concord or St Marys clinics.

We can then listen to your concerns and carry out a precise assessment of your child in order to provide you with clear advice and suggestions to help moving forwards.

Book Now

If you have any questions, or would like to come and see us at Precision Physio, you can contact us on 02 8607 4000 or request a call by completing this form.

This blog was written by Kelly Jones, Physiotherapist at Precision Physio – Concord. If you would like more information, or to work specifically with Kelly, you can contact her through the Precision Physio Concord clinic: 02 9736 3950 or book in online.

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