On a daily basis, your child may lug more than five kilograms to and from school in their backpack. This concerns our practice as there is a connection between loads carried and reports of unhealthy spinal symptoms including lower back, shoulder and neck pain. By getting your child to see one of our physiotherapists for a check up, we can determine whether your child’s spine is not at risk of injury and suggest actions such as flexibility and muscle control to help maximise their spine’s health. To keep your child’s spine in good health use the following tips in addition to speaking to one of our physiotherapists. Tip 1 Choose the right backpack that … Fits the body comfortably Doesn’t extend above the shoulders when seated Has shoulder straps that are broad, well padded and adjustable Has straps attached to the top of the pack at separate points Has a waist strap to keep the load in place when moving Has separate compartments to allow heavy items to be packed close to the body Is padded where it touches the back and made of firm material to prevent the load from sagging backwards. Tip 2 Pack smart Lighten loads – don’t let your child carry too many heavy books on the same day Plan ahead – to avoid your child carrying lots of equipment at the same time, like sports gear, musical instruments or art materials Pack the heaviest items – such as a lap top – closest to the body and the lighter, softer items further out. Tip 3 Carry smart When packed, make sure the backpack doesn’t sag or pull backwards Insist your child uses both shoulder straps when wearing the backpack Ensure the backpack’s waist strap is used to keep the load in place when your child is walking or cycling Don’t let your child carry the backpack for too long – advise them to take breaks and put it down.