by Barbro Brost, D.C.
Kids love to go off to the first day of school, after the summer, with a brand-new
backpack. It is a fashion statement and ranks even higher than the cool new
outfit they are wearing! Thank goodness that iPads have decreased the amount
of weight kids have to carry around, but backpacks still can cause problems to
young, growing bodies if not packed and carried right.
The rule of thumb is that a child should not carry a backpack that weighs more
than 10% of their body weight. So, if you are in elementary school and weigh 60
pounds, 6 pounds should be the maximum weight of your back pack. Bigger kids
can obviously handle heavier backpacks.
Pack the backpack so the heavier, larger items will be carried as close towards the
child’s back as possible and lighter objects further out. If a backpack is packed
this way it creates much less leverage on the spine.
Teach kids to pack the backpack before they go to bed for the next day so they
are not rushed in the morning. Also, make sure they take out anything that they
don’t need in the backpack anymore, to avoid a slow accumulation of
And of course, backpacks should be carried on the back with both straps over the
shoulders. As a chiropractor, I have seen many kids develop neck pain and
headaches from carrying all the weight of their books on one shoulder.
If you have a child that complains about back pain, neck pain or headaches check
their backpack and how they carry it. You may also want to visit a local chiropractor to have
their spine checked!