Backpack, Backpack!

by Sarah

It’s back to school time! Summer has quickly flown by which brings the start of a new school year. As you are getting your family ready for the year ahead, there is one precaution that you may have overlooked: an overloaded backpack.

Some of the telltale signs that your child’s pack may be too heavy are if they struggle to get their backpack on or off, or lean forward while carrying his or her backpack. Heavy backpacks or packs that are not worn correctly could be putting your child at risk of injuries like muscle strains, and back, neck, and shoulder pain. Between textbooks, notebooks, electronic devices, pens - you name it, it can weigh a child down with more than they should be carrying. Most doctors and physical therapists recommend that children carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in their pack. For example, a child who weighs 80 pounds should carry no more than 8-12 pounds worth of items in their backpack.

Backpacks come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors that allow children to express themselves. Here are a few things to think about when helping them choose a backpack that is appropriate for them and can eliminate potential injuries:

  • Choose a lightweight backpack. For example, choose a canvas backpack versus leather.
  • Look for a backpack with a padded back with two wide, padded shoulder straps. This can help distribute the weight of a backpack evenly and avoid being poked by objects within the backpack.
  • Buy a pack with a waist belt and multiple compartments. This can also help distribute the backpack’s weight more evenly.
  • If the school allows it, a backpack with wheels is another good option. That way the child isn’t forced to carry all of their heavy items on their back.

Another important way to avoid injury is to pick up backpacks properly, bending at the knees and picking it up with both hands. The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and not sag down below the hips. Lastly, don’t over-pack! Suggest that your child only bring home the items that will be needed for the night’s homework, and suggest making frequent stops to their locker or desk to exchange items to-and-from their backpack. 

Happy Packing!

Be Well,



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