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Back to School Without The Back Pain

Easing the burden of returning to school.

back to school without the back pain

The long summer holidays are over and it’s time to return to school. All across Sydney, children will leave their houses with bulging backpacks and trudge to school like weary tortoises.

But the comparison is perhaps a little unfair. Unlike a child, the humble tortoise has evolved over millions of years to become an expert at carrying its permanent luggage. We doubt you’ll ever see one slip a solitary limb through its shell and saunter along the road pretending that’s the coolest and most effective way to carry its burden.

Stats have shown that junior school children hare carrying the equivalent of 17 percent of their body weight in the school bags – almost double the maximum recommended weight. To counter the weight and retain balance, it is common for children to lean forward. Unfortunately, this puts additional strain on the lower back and neck.

Between 18 and 24 per cent of children report suffering from back pain at least once a month. An Australian observational study1 published in Australian Journal of Physiotherapy also found that neck pain was reported to be as high as back pain in adolescents.

Of course, there are plenty of possible causes—the business of growing up is, after all, a very demanding time for a child’s body. But whether it’s a sporting injury, postural—or even related to carrying a heavy backpack over one shoulder because it’s so much cooler to do so—if your son or daughter is complaining of back pain then bring them along to NDPE. We are experienced paediatric physiotherapists; with specific tailored programs for your child.

Looking for some tips to ease your child’s back pain returning to school this year?

The Australian Physiotherapy Association’s Paediatric Group Chair, Julianne Pegler recommends these following tips for the best school back pack2:

  • Choose a backpack with wide shoulder straps that sit well on the shoulders.
  • Ensure waist and chest straps help transfer some of the load to the hips and pelvis.
  • A padded back-support will allow the pack to fit ‘snugly’ on the back.
  • Ensure the backpack fits the child; don’t buy a big pack to ‘grow’ into—the pack should not extend higher than the child’s shoulders when sitting.
  • Be aware that moderately weighted backpacks are not detrimental to kids’ back health.
  • Avoid swinging backpacks around.

So if you want to ease the burden on your child as they return to school, call NDPE on 02 9874 8410.

Related Link: What To Do For Lower Back Pain?


1 Perceived school bag load, duration of carriage, and method of transport to school are associated with spinal pain in adolescents: an observational study. Clare Haselgrove, Leon Straker, Anne Smith, Peter O’Sullivan, Mark Perry, Nick Sloan 2011 Australian Journal of Physiotherapy Volume 54, Issue 3, 2008, Pages 193–200


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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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95 Ryedale Road
West Ryde NSW 2114

Ph 02 9874 8410
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