Backpack Safety from Your Chiropractor


  • Backpacks are defined as a sturdy bag carried on one’s back and secured with two straps that go over the shoulders. They are most often used as a practical and convenient way for children, adolescents and adults to lift and carry bulky items such as textbooks, laptops and other supplies. Backpacks are created and designed to distribute the weight of the load over the skeletal frame of the body against gravity and using strong postural muscles. When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to carry the necessities of the day.
  • At Great Life Chiropractic, we want to make sure that you’re using your backpack properly, and in line with healthy posture supporting the weight on your back against gravity.

Symptoms that your backpack might be too heavy

  • If you experience any of the following difficulties, your backpack may be too heavy for you to carry.
  • 1. When you carry your backpack, you automatically lean forward.
  • 2. You face a lot of discomfort while putting it on or taking it off.
  • 3. Carrying it is uncomfortable and you feel pain.
  • 4. You often get strap marks on your skin.
  • 5. You experience numbness in your hands, arms or feet.

Lightening the Load

  • Have you ever picked up a backpack that feels like it contains 50 pounds after your child has dropped it at the entrance of your home? Or maybe you have noticed your child struggling to put it on or having to bend forward while carrying it around? It is common nowadays for kids to carry up to a quarter of their body weight. However, the American Chiropractic Association recommends that a backpack should not weigh more than 5% to 10% of a child’s body weight.
  • Therefore, if you have noticed these behaviors, you may want to consider the effects of an unnecessary amount of weight on your child’s still-growing body.

Choosing the Best Backpack

  • While shopping for a backpack, there are a couple of thoughts to keep in mind. For example, you should look closely at the child’s or teen size and the amount of weight they will carry with them every day.
  • Here are some features to look for:
  1. Lightweight backpack
  2. Backpack with two shoulder straps
  3. Wide, padded shoulder straps
  4. A waist strap, and a chest strap if wearing backpack for prolonged periods

Wear it Right

  1. Always use both shoulder straps when carrying a backpack. Many kids find it easier to quickly pick up one strap of the backpack and haul it around, which can eventually cause muscle spasms and lower back pain. This also includes one-strap backpacks that are worn across the body. However, wearing two straps and making sure they are evenly distributing the weight will help align the back helping with posture and avoiding pain.
  2. Packing light by removing unnecessary items. Putting the heavier items and supplies at the bottom and against the back will help keep most of the weight off the shoulders, benefitting posture.
  3. Tighten straps to keep the load closer to the back. Tightening straps on backpacks will help the backpack rest evenly and keep the pressure and weight closer to the back. Tightening straps will avoid the need to hunch over, which improves posture as well. Also, having padded straps protects the shoulders. Non-padded straps dig into the shoulders, which can cause more upper back and shoulder pain.
  4. Organize the supplies. By placing heavier items low and towards the center allows the weight to be distributed evenly.
  5. Lift by bending at the knees. When picking up a backpack, you must not bend over to lift the bag. Bending over will cause strain in the back; therefore, bend at the knees and use your legs to lift the backpack. By squatting and lifting, you will save yourself from unnecessary pain.