Choosing the correct school backpacks

As a new group of children get ready to start their school careers it is really important to choose a correctly fitted backpack.

Poorly fitted or incorrect backpacks for school can lead to:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle strain
  • Back pain
  • Alterations to the spines natural curves
  • Rounding of the neck and shoulders

Natural curves of the spine should be maintained when wearing a school backpack


Backpack features should include:

  • Internal compartments or split compartments
  • Well padded shoulder straps to improve comfort
  • Waist and chest straps to disperse loads
  • Built in rigid and padded back support

Packing tips

  • Load less than 10% of body weight. For example if your child is 30kg then the load should be 3kg
  • Heaviest items against the spine
  • Close all zippers
  • Repack the bag nightly

Only pack essentials

Fitting a school backpack

It is important to take the correct measurements when choosing a correctly fitted backpack. The shoulder width and back height are the key measurements


Back height = Shoulder Line to Waist Line + 5cm







Shoulder width =

Ridge of shoulder blade to the ridge of the other shoulder blade






Correct fitting backpack should: 

  • Follow the natural curves of the back
  • Top of the pack at shoulder height
  • Use of waist straps
  • Pack not wider than the child
  • Base of bag at waist height

Poorly fitting backpack for a Kinder student     







Correct fitting for a Kinder student 








Physiopak was designed from research by physiotherapists at the University of South Australia and endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Extensive testing by The Centre for Allied Health Research has shown that Physiopak reduces the degree of postural change to carry a load. The PhysioPak was on the shortlist for the Australian Design awards 2001. To find out more visit

Good luck to all those starting school for the first time in 2014.

If you would like further information on choosing the correct backpack for your child please call Rathmines Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre on 4975-1622.