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Packing Back-to-School Backpacks
Knowledge Center

Packing Back-to-School Backpacks

July 28, 2017
Photo of a small child holding a pile of books.

Backpacks are a popular and practical way for children and teenagers to carry schoolbooks and supplies. They are designed to distribute the weight of the load among some of the body’s strongest muscles. When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to carry the necessities for the school day.  


The Challenges of School Backpacks

School backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teenagers, injuring muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck, knee, and shoulder pain, and posture problems. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries every year. When choosing a backpack for school, look for one that is appropriate for the size of the child. Properly loading and wearing the backpack can avoid injury and pain.


Tips to Reduce School Backpack-Related Injuries:

  • Adjust the straps to keep the load close to the back.
  • Use a backpack with waist strap and padded back.
  • Use a backpack with multiple compartments to distribute weight.
  • Choose a lightweight backpack fabric.
  • Select a backpack the length of the torso with the bottom two inches below the waist.
  • Pack heavier items low and in the center.
  • Carry only books and supplies required for the day. Make frequent trips to the school locker during the day.
  • Lift the backpack by using the leg muscles and keeping it close to the body, not by bending over with arms extended.
  • Do not lean forward when walking. If this is necessary, there is too much weight in the backpack.
  • Clean out the backpack once a week.


Parents should be aware of their child’s posture and the weight carried in the backpack. If the child complains of discomfort, reduce the weight in the backpack immediately. A guideline for backpack weight limit as a percent of the child’s body weight. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that a backpack should be less than 10-15% of the child’s body weight. About 5,000 children visit ERs each year because of backpack-related injuries. If a child suffers from back, neck, knee, shoulder, or hip pain, or walks with a forward head posture, instead of an expensive trip to the ER for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon, come to the nearest DOC location for immediate access to an orthopedist and expert diagnosis and treatment. To learn about neck and spine conditions treated by DOC, visit us here.  

For more information on the cost of care, click here.



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