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Is Your Child’s Backpack Weighing Them Down?

Now that school is back in full swing, it’s time to think about your child’s spinal health. Are their backpacks
weighing them down? For most students, the answer is yes. Aside from necessary school items such as binders, folders, and books, many kids are now carrying extra electronics (laptops, IPads, cell phones, etc.) or toys in their backpacks, making the bag extra heavy.

So what is “too heavy?” Researchers state that the average backpack represented 17% of the child’s body weight but experts recommend backpacks weigh no more than 10% of the child’s bodyweight. If the bag exceeds 10%, it can be harmful to your child’s spinal health now, or even years down the road. If your child ever complains that their back hurts when carrying their backpack, chances are it is too heavy. Another tell-tale sign that a backpack may be too heavy is if the child leans forward or their posture changes when wearing the backpack.


Signs your backpack is too heavy:

  • Posture changes when wearing backpack
  • Back or neck pain while/after wearing backpack
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands
  • Pain in the shoulders

Ways to prevent spinal issues caused by backpacks:

  • Weigh the backpack- carry extra books in hands if bag is too heavy (over 10% of bodyweight)
  • Only pack necessary school items in the backpack
  • Use lockers when available to pickup/ drop off books when they’re not needed
  • Avoid using one strap athletic bags or backpacks
  • Choose a bag made of lightweight material, w/ thick shoulder straps
  • Always wear both shoulder straps to distribute weight evenly
  • Tighten shoulder straps so that the bag sits above the waist
  • Use a backpack on wheels

Next time you are at a bus stop, or school crossing, take a look at the children, how many of them are leaning forward to compensate for their overly large, or extra heavy backpack? Studies show children who experience back pain are more likely to experience back pain as an adult. Use these helpful hits to prevent spinal issues for your child. It is easier to prevent spinal issues, than to fix them!

Dr. Sarah Geringer
Chiropractic Physician
Dr. Sarah Geringer


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