One of our most common questions, asked of us by parents, is whether their child’s backpack is safe for them to carry. Could it cause back pain or injury, or affect their development over the long term?

As a matter of fact, the American Chiropractic Association has addressed this very issue. They recommend that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 5 to 10 percent of their own body weight. So, for a 100-pound child, we’re talking about 5 to 10 pounds, maximum. That’s not a lot of weight!  If your child’s backpack weighs more than that recommended amount, they are at greater risk of problems like injury and back pain.

One thing you can do is speak to your child’s teacher. Inquire as to whether some books can be left at school, and which ones could stay at home. Reduce the number of binders and other “stuff” that your child needs to carry back and forth between school and home.

Also, the way your child wears his or her backpack is key. Make sure they use both shoulder straps, so that the backpack’s weight is evenly distributed across the spine. The bottom of their backpack should rest no lower than four inches below the waist, and should never hang behind their legs. The backpack should fit snugly against the middle of your child’s back, centered between both shoulders.

If you have further questions about your child’s backpack use, I would be happy to answer them. I can even take a look at how your young student carries his or her backpack, and make recommendations to prevent injury and strain.