Children and Back Pain: The Effects of Heavy Backpacks



It’s common to hear adults complain about back pain, but the number of children requiring back pain relief is also on the rise. According to the American Chiropractic Association, the majority of their young patients with back problems carry a heavy backpack to and from school.

The ideal backpack weight should equal 10 percent or less of a child’s body weight. However, this is often not the case for schoolchildren; heavy backpacks are typically the result of a lack of lockers or storage space at school.Up to 60 percent of children who carry heavy backpacks report problems with back pain.

Portland chiropractors, as well as pediatric chiropractic experts worldwide, have found that most children will often sling a backpack strap over just one shoulder. The resulting loads can be compared to a grown man or woman carrying a backpack that weighs 29 to 39 pounds. Moreover, the longer a child uses a heavy backpack, the longer it takes the spine to realign correctly on its own and provide natural back pain relief.

Tips for Better Backpack Use

  • Choose a backpack that comes with pockets of different sizes so the weight distribution is more even.
  • Ensure the backpack matches the child’s size. A child in kindergarten, for example, should not use large backpacks marketed to college students.
  • Encourage your child to use both backpack straps (preferably wide, padded straps), one on each shoulder.
  • Adjust the straps so the backpack does not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline.

Seeking Care

Spinal health is essential for a growing child. If your child carries a heavy backpack and experiences back pain, chiropractic treatments can help ease discomfort in a gentle, effective manner.

photo credit: lori05871 via photopin cc

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