Tips to Avoid Back Pain from Kids Backpacks

Sep 15, 2021

Now that the kiddos are back in school, check out this helpful article below issued by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors – all about kids and how they should properly wear their backpacks.

Why Wearing a Backpack Properly Is Important?

We sometimes forget, heavy backpack loads place stress on the spine and shoulders of children, causing muscle strain and fatigue. Too much weight can also lead to bad habits such as poor posture and excessive slouching.

An interesting study measuring how a child wears a backpack and the impacts it has on their spines was co-authored by Dr. Ken Hansraj and shared by CBS News (

“If you carry, for example, 10 pounds in your backpack, then the forces on the spine is 70 pounds of force,” he said — seven times the weight. Walking uphill only adds to the impact. “So then if you’re struggling uphill 20 degrees, then the forces become 120 pounds.”

Hansraj said carrying too heavy a load puts children and teens at risk for long-term health problems because they’re stressing areas of the spine and core that are still growing.

He recommends young kids carry no more than the equivalent of 10 percent of their body weight. That amounts to 5 pounds for a 50-pound 6-year-old. For a 150-pound teenager, the recommendation increases to 23 pounds. For a 200-pound adult, it’s 40 pounds.

Six Tips to Properly Pack Your Kids Backpack

The Harvard Medical School has some awesome tips for packing that backpack just right:

  1. A backpack should not hang more than a few inches below the waist. The lower a backpack hangs, the more weight the shoulders must carry. Actually, a backpack that hangs two inches above the waist is the optimal fit, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
  2. Purchase a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps to prevent the straps from digging into the shoulder.
  3. Make sure your child uses both shoulder straps, firmly tightened. If your child uses one strap, all the weight is on one side of their back and this leads to lower back pain and muscles spasms.
  4. A hip strap should be used when carrying heavy loads to distribute the weight evenly between the back and the hips.
  5. The heaviest items should be packed close to the back.
  6. When lifting a heavy pack, your child should remember to bend at the knees and use their legs to lift.

Centennial Wellness treats children and teens of all ages at our downtown Calgary clinic. Our chiropractors can share some tips and demonstrate proper backpack use in a treatment session. So, if those backpacks have become a pain in the back, make an appointment to see one of our chiropractors by clicking here.


Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors, Pack it light, wear it right. (2021)

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