Backpack tips

Tips for Safe Backpack Use:

  1. Choose the Right Backpack:
    • Opt for lightweight backpacks with wide, padded straps and a padded back for comfort and proper weight distribution.
    • Consider backpacks with multiple compartments to distribute weight evenly.
    • A backpack should not hang more than 10cm below the child’s waistline. A lower-hanging backpack increases the weight on the shoulders, causing a forward lean while walking. For adults, the backpack can hang proportionately lower, but hanging it too low will cause the same issue.
  2. Proper Weight Distribution:
    • Ensure the backpack weighs no more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight.
    • Heavier items should be packed closer to the child’s back to minimize strain.
  3. Wear Both Straps:
    • Encourage your child to use both shoulder straps to distribute weight evenly and prevent muscle strain.
    • Tighten the straps to keep the backpack close to the body.
  4. Use Additional Support:
    • Waist and chest straps can help stabilize the backpack and reduce strain on the spine.
  5. Pack Strategically:
    • Distribute weight evenly by packing heavier items at the bottom and lighter items at the top.
    • Encourage your child to only pack essential items to reduce the overall weight of the backpack.
  6. Practice Proper Posture:
    • Encourage your child to stand tall with shoulders back while wearing the backpack.
    • Remind them to avoid slouching or leaning forward, which can strain the spine.
  7. Take Regular Breaks:
    • Encourage your child to take breaks and remove the backpack when possible, especially if they have to carry it for long periods.


By following these guidelines for safe backpack use, school-going children can reduce the risk of scoliosis progression and associated discomfort. Proper backpack habits, combined with regular check-ups with a healthcare professional, can support spinal health and overall well-being.

Remember, a well-fitted backpack and good posture are essential for maintaining a healthy spine during the school years.

Dr. Marlo Swanepoel

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