Backpack safety 101

As the school year kicks off with that new backpack full of school supplies, now is the time to do a safety check on your child’s back. Doing so will help protect their back now and promote good back health in the future.

  • Lighten up: Many students carry too much weight on their backs, opting to skip their lockers in between classes and stuff all their books in their backpack. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends students carry no more than 15 to 20 percent of their body weight in their backpack.

Backpack weight guide

Child’s weight Backpack weight
75 pounds 11.25 pounds
90 pounds 13.5 pounds
115 pounds 17.25 pounds
125 pounds 18.75 pounds
150 pounds 22.5 pounds
  • Double up: While the fad might be to sling a backpack over one shoulder, this could cause tremendous neck and shoulder aches and pains. Encourage your child to double up and put a strap over each shoulder. Doing so evenly distributes the weight of the backpack and promotes better posture and fewer back injuries.
  • Create a snug fit: Students also like to wear their backpacks low. This creates pull on the back and, often, the child will try to overcompensate by arching the back or leaning forward. Tighten up the straps so the backpack fits snug against your child’s body and rests in the middle of the back.
  • Look for thick straps: Backpack straps should be wide and padded with foam to provide cushion and added support for the shoulders. Tight, narrow straps can dig into the shoulders and pinch nerves or interfere with circulation, especially when the backpack is weighted down.

Backpack safety is serious business for your child’s back health now and into the future. Take the time to talk to your child about the proper way to carry a backpack for optimal health. If you find that your child is complaining of back pain, speak with your child’s pediatrician about possible reasons for the ongoing pain.

For more back-to-school recommendations, visit or talk with your pediatrician. If you do not have a pediatrician, find one now or call (502) 629-KIDS.

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