Is Your Child’s Backpack Hurting Them?

pediatric chiropractor frederick md

As millions of children head back to school, one accessory is a constant: Backpacks.

These bags are as stylish as they are functional for many students, with fun new designs and features to choose from each school year.

But for many students, carrying an overloaded backpack every day can cause problems.

How Heavy Is Too Heavy for a Backpack?

Many experts, including orthopedic doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors, say that a backpack should never weigh more than 10-15 percent of a child’s total body weight.

So, for a 50-pound 1st-grader, a backpack should weigh between 5 and 7.5 pounds.

However, once you factor in books, folders, snacks, extra clothing, and equipment for after-school sports and activities, many children are carrying much more than the recommended amount lin their backpacks.

The best way to tell if your child’s backpack is too heavy for them is to put their full backpack on a scale. Compare that number to your child’s weight and, if it’s more than 10-15% of their total weight, it’s too heavy.

What Can Happen If My Child’s Backpack Is Too Heavy?

Occasionally carrying a backpack that’s too heavy isn’t likely to cause your child too many issues.

Over time, though, a too-heavy backpack can lead to pain and injuries, including:

  • Lower back pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, or fingers

Long-term heavy backpack use can lead to sprains and strains of the spine, back, and neck, which may lead to your child needing physical therapy, surgery, or other corrective measures.

What Can I Do If My Child’s Backpack Is Too Heavy?

The best solution if your child is carrying a too-heavy backpack is to lighten the load. 

Thanks to technology, many schools have access to online resources and electronic textbooks that could decrease the need for your child to carry heavy books to and from school. Ask your child’s teachers if this is an option for your child, even just for homework purposes.

For handouts and other homework, see if your child’s teacher is willing to send digital copies of these papers instead of sending them in a backpack. Not only will this help with the overall weight of backpacks, but it can save teachers time and school districts money that’s otherwise used preparing handouts.

This option may not be feasible in many situations, however.

If this is the case, here are some things to remember when choosing, packing, and using your child’s backpack each day:

Choose lightweight fabrics, such as nylon, over heavier materials such as leather. Also look for backpacks that feature two straps instead of one, and make sure those straps are padded.

Whenever possible, select wheeled backpacks that your child can pull behind them instead of worn backpacks. This is especially important if y;our child needs to carry heavy books and sporting equipment daily, and must walk or stand for long periods of time.

Be aware of how your child’s backpack is packed. Put heavier textbooks or electronics toward the back, with lighter items in the front. This puts the bulk of the weight near the spine and keeps your child’s center of gravity strong.

One key for safe backpack use, especially among older children, is properly wearing the backpack at all times.

Many kids don’t think it’s “cool” to wear both shoulder straps when they carry their backpacks, but using only one strap shifts the load, changes your child’s center of gravity, and can cause additional strain on the neck and shoulders.

Can Chiropractic Help My Child’s Backpack Strain?

If your child experiences pain and strain from carrying a too-heavy backpack, chiropractic may help them feel better.

This safe, all-natural treatment can help realign the spine, decrease inflammation, and encourage muscle repair. 

Talk with your child’s doctor and a skilled chiropractor to see if the practice may be right for your family.

Chiropractic Care for Children & Teens in Frederick, MD

At Lipinski Chiropractic, we want your children to be healthy and happy so they can succeed in school, sports, and life. Dr. Sebastian Lipinski works with you to determine your child’s goals for treatment, developing an individualized care plan suited to your child’s needs. Schedule your appointment today!