group of children wearing backpacks leaping up together in the woods

Protect Your Child’s Back Health With These Backpack Tips

Many parents worry that their child’s backpack is too heavy. Heavy packs can lead to neck, shoulder and low back pain. Even worse, a backpack can lead to poor posture that will have long term effects on a child’s spine. 


If your child is experiencing back pain, neck pain, stiffness, poor posture, headaches, or numbness and tingling in their hands, definitely take a look at what they carry and how they carry it.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a backpack be no more than 10-20% of a child’s body weight. For example, a 100 pound child should carry a backpack of no more than 15-20 pounds. As parents, we need to help our children learn to pack light.


Be proactive: lighten your kid’s load.

Math and language arts textbooks together often weigh more than 10 pounds. When you add the weight of lunch, supplies, and the pack’s intrinsic weight, your child could be carrying a heavy load, and that may not be healthy for their spine.


Things you can do to lighten backpacks:

  1. Look online to see if you can purchase their books
  2. Ask if there are online versions of their textbooks. 
  3. Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back: use 2-2.5 inch wide straps
  4. Wear the backpack using both straps to evenly distribute the weight of the pack across the shoulders
  5. Use the chest strap because it reduces compensatory arching of the low back
  6. Empty the backpack every night
  7. Attempt to reduce the load by leaving books in the child’s locker or at home
  8. Adjust the pack so that the bottom sits at your child’s waist
  9. If your child must carry more than 20% of their body weight each day, consider a rolling backpack
  10. Be sure the school allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day


Check in with your child, regularly.

Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about pain or discomfort. Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager. Ask your chiropractor to check your child’s spine.


Is your child in pain? Make an online appointment now.


In our clinic we treat kids for sports injuries, but also posture related text neck, backpack related upper back tension and low back pain.


Click here to watch a video Dr. Goldi posted to FB on backpacks.


Do you think your adolescent is suffering from back or neck pain that might not be due to a backpack? We frequently see teenage neck and back pain issues. Gain insight into teen neck and back pain by checking out this blog post. 


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