Back to School Backpack Safety

Written By Tracy & Keim Chiropractic LLC on September 27, 2019


It’s estimated that over half of the backpack-toting students across the United States are carrying too much on their backs—some as much as a quarter of their own body weight. Backpacks that are too heavy, poorly designed, or incorrectly worn can cause pain in the back, neck, and shoulders, and even lead to the development of poor posture. Follow these guidelines for back to school backpack safety to ensure that your child’s academic success doesn’t take a toll on their physical health.


At most, your child’s backpack should be no heavier than 15% of their body weight. However, a safer percentage is 5-10% of your child’s body weight, so aim to make the backpack as light as you can. Choose the lightest backpack that will meet your child’s needs, and pack smart, leaving out any unnecessary items.


Have your child try the backpack on, and make sure it’s no wider than their torso. While it may be tempting to purchase a big, roomy backpack, it’s better to get one that’s just large enough to fit everything your child needs for a day at school. An appropriately sized backpack also shouldn’t hang more than 4 inches below the waist. Low-hanging backpacks are a common culprit when it comes to spinal problems and back pain.


Choose a backpack with wide shoulder straps that will distribute weight as evenly as possible and won’t dig into your child’s shoulders. Make sure your child wears both shoulder straps, as wearing just one strap will shift all the weight to one side of their body, causing muscle discomfort and posture problems. Chest and waist straps can also help to distribute weight and keep the backpack in an appropriate position.

Padding and Pockets

Although your child’s backpack should be as light as possible, you still want it to be durable, comfortable, and easy to use. Backpacks with a padded back and straps are easier on the body and can help prevent back and shoulder pain. Plenty of pockets also make it easier to distribute weight properly and can help keep things organized.


Pack only what your child needs to transport to and from school each day. You may want to ask their teacher about items that can be left in the classroom or locker. Teach your child how to load their backpack properly, with the heaviest items centered at the bottom and lighter items on top or distributed in the backpack’s other pockets and compartments.


It can be helpful to completely unpack and repack the backpack on a regular basis throughout the academic year—all kinds of things can accumulate in a backpack during day-to-day school life. Reorganizing regularly will allow you to remove unnecessary items that have crept in and keep your child’s backpack clean, well-organized, and properly packed for the best distribution of weight. It also provides an opportunity to identify any wear and tear—such as broken straps or torn pockets—that may be need to dealt with.

By following these simple back to school backpack safety tips, you can help your child protect their back, maintain good posture, and avoid injury and discomfort. And the benefits may not be just physical. Click here to learn about how good posture can positively influence your child’s mental and emotional health too.



Posted In: Chiropractic Back Pain Backpacks