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With the beginning of the school year, parents often get concerned about the weight of children’s school backpacks and whether they are damaging their child’s backs. Over time backpacks have changed and many have compartments allowing heavy items to be close to the spine. Putting the heavy books close to the spine reduces the drag of the backpack.
It is generally recommended children carry a maximum of 10% of their body weight in their bags. This can be challenging and often requires a degree of organisation, rather than carrying unnecessary books.
Despite these guidelines, there is never a guarantee that exceeding this load will cause problems or that keeping loads down will prevent pain. One of the best ways to prevent pain is to have strong muscles. A recent study showed only 6% of Australian children aged 15-17 meet the national guidelines of 60 minutes of exercise every day. With reduced exercise comes increased sitting time and reduced muscle strength. This behavior is a risk for developing musculoskeletal pain either now or in the future.
As physiotherapists, we are experts in assessing and treating pain in muscles and joints in both adults and children.

Published in “The Village Observer”, February 2017. Written by Burns Bay Physiotherapy.