Searching through the aisles at the store for the perfect school backpack is a yearly occurrence for many children as they hope to find their favorite superhero, favorite princess, or favorite color. Although the book strap style in the early 1900s was effective for individual to carry their books, the modern backpack is equipped with multiple compartments and deep pockets to hold not just books but lunchboxes, water bottles, electronic devices, umbrellas, and so much more.

Depending on the amount of homework your child has, availability of school lockers, textbook size, and amount of items your child brings to school daily there is a possibility that the weight of your child’s backpack is too heavy. This may be a cause of neck or back pain and may be causing postural changes.

Current recommendations suggest that backpack weight should be at a maximum weight limit of 10%-15% of your child’s body weight. Weight that exceeds 10% of body weight causes the follow postural changes: forward head posture, increased anterior pelvic tilt, forward trunk lean, and increased amount of force on the lumbosacral spine.

So have your child step on the scale and measure his or her weight and measure the weight of the backpack with the typical daily load to determine if your child’s backpack is too heavy for daily use.

The following suggestions are simple ways to reduce the amount of weight and to improve backpack safety:

  • Use your locker: Make frequent stops at your locker to exchange the books and binders you are finished with for the books you will need for your upcoming class. Only bring home necessary books leave the remaining books in your locker.
  • Periodically clean out your backpack: Old homework, trash, and personal items that are not needed should be removed to decrease the weight of your daily load.
  • Replace binders with folders if possible
  • Carry your lunchbox in your hand instead of placing it in your backpack
  • Use a backpack that has two wide straps to evenly distribute the weight throughout the body
  • Place books and items that are the largest and heaviest closest to the child’s body

If you child reports they have back or neck pain or if you notice any abnormalities in your child’s posture please consult your pediatrician or a physical therapist. 

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