Back Packs And Back Pain

Published on August 16, 2013 by Kimberly Bergeron, PA-C, MPAS

A proper back pack is an essential part of a child’s school experience. While most parents will focus on price, and most children will focus on aesthetics, the primary concern should be how back packs can affect a child’s overall health.

Heavy back packs place strains on the neck and back, leading to pain and general discomfort. A heavy back pack can distort the natural curvature of the middle and lower back, which will cause muscle strains and irritation to spinal joints. Beyond the damage that a heavy back can cause, the child’s balance will be impacted by the load, leaving them more prone to fall when walking.

What exactly do we mean by a heavy back pack? For an average adult, carrying a 15-lb. bag would not feel taxing, but when children weigh only 60 pounds, this represents 25% of their body weight! Most literature on the subject encourages children to carry no more than 10% of their bodyweight. Of course, this requires the student to be aware of what is necessary to bring home each night. Are all the books needed? Are all the supplies needed?  It might be beneficial to contact the teacher to find out what your child does or does not need each night.

One should not only consider the weight that children carry but how they carry their bag.  If your child wears a back pack engaging only one strap, then the weight of the bag is not evenly distributed over the entire back.  It is important that both straps be used, which will help distribute the load more evenly. In addition, the straps should be snug so that the bag sits higher on the back.

The right bag is also important. A good back pack should be made with lighter materials, such as canvas. It should offer wide, padded shoulder straps and padding along the back, which helps cushion any rebound or impact from books or supplies. Also consider one with a waist strap that will help redistribute the weight. There are also roller back packs; however those can be difficult to maneuver and difficult to use with stairs.

If parents and students start with a good back pack, then take some basic preventative steps, avoiding unnecessary items and heavy weights, along with proper fitting, harmful issues can be avoided.


  1. of-Backpack-Carrying-in-Children

Share This:

More on Back Pain Prevention and Prevention:

How To Manage Back Pain During Holiday Travel

November 16, 2022

Along with the fun and excitement the holidays bring, chances are also high that you or someone in your family will experience back pain at ...

What Kinds of Exercise Help Lower Back Pain?

March 17, 2021

Lower back pain strikes almost every adult at some point during their lives. Estimates on how many people around the world experience at least one episode ...

5 Tips for Optimal Joint Health

August 11, 2020

When we have an ache or a pain, we tend to experience it as something localized: a sore knee, a stiff hip. But our bodies ...

Tech Neck is Real, and It Could Be Causing Your Neck Pain

March 9, 2020

In 2018, the average person over 18 years in the United States spent about three hours a day on their phones. And kids aged 8–17 spend almost eight hours ...

Take a Natural Approach to Relieving Arthritis Pain

February 1, 2020

Whether you have degenerative osteoarthritis, autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis, or any of the other 100+ arthritis forms, living with stiff, achy, and painful joints can seriously ...

Lifestyle Changes to Help Combat Lower Back Pain

October 1, 2019

The lower part of your back does almost all the heavy lifting. At some point in your life, you’re probably going to feel some lower ...