• Tips to Help Your Student Avoid Back Pain From Heavy Backpacks

    October 22, 2020 | By Tony Yong

    Tips to Help Your Student Avoid Back Pain From Heavy Backpacks

    We can all agree that going back to school this year has been very stressful with Covid and social distancing concerns.  On top of this, most students aren’t able to leave any books or supplies at school, so they must carry all of their heavy books to and from school every day.  Doing this can take its toll and cause strain on our children’s necks and backs.  Innovation Physical Therapy wants to ensure that your little ones (or big healthy teens!) are prepared for the months ahead so they can avoid injuries and stay healthy


    We have put together a few ways you can help your child lighten the load on his or her shoulders.


    Be aware of the signs of back pain.

    Kids can be very active and can find different ways to hurt themselves when roughhousing, etc.  When trying to determine if issues may be stemming from the use of a backpack, consider the following:


    • Tingling or numbness in their neck and back
    • Red marks on their shoulders
    • Changing posture when wearing a backpack
    • Struggling to put it on or take it off


    These are all signs that the backpack is too heavy. A child’s backpack should not weigh more than 15 percent of their body weight to prevent back pain.  Realizing that most kids are required to bring all books every day, consider contacting the school to see if the load can be lessened by only bringing individual books on specific days.


    Choose the right backpack for your child. 

    To ease the weight off of your child’s shoulders, select a backpack with the following:


    • Made of lightweight material
    • Two padded, adjustable shoulder straps that are at least 2 inches wide
    • Individual compartments to allow for distribution of weight
    • A padded back section, allowing for added comfort.


    When packing the backpack, place the heaviest items lower inside the backpack and ensure that everything is as centred as possible.  Doing this will allow for stability and not force your child to have to shift around uncomfortably.  If the backpack has it, utilize the hip or waist belt for added support.  Though not very feasible in our winter months, the use of a wheeled backpack will also help prevent back pain, but you may need to confirm if your child’s school allows them.


    Make sure your child wears the backpack correctly.

    Getting your child set up with their backpack at home is one thing but ensuring that they get in the proper habit at school is another.  Here are some pointers to make sure that your child wears their backpack correctly:


    • Using both shoulder straps is essential. Carrying a backpack over one shoulder can cause a noticeable shift in weight, causing the body to overcompensate.
    • Ensure that shoulder straps are tight, and the backpack sits close to the body, sitting 2 inches above the waist.
    • Use the chest strap if your child’s backpack has one. The strap will also help to ensure that the pack is close to the body.
    • Having good posture while wearing and picking up a heavy backpack is also critical. When putting on, one should always bend at the knees and avoid bending at the waist.
    • If your child has to bend over to carry their backpack, this is a sign that it is too heavy. It is essential to always walk with a straight back when wearing a backpack.


    Have your child spend time strengthening his or her back muscles.  You can increase your stability by utilizing core and back strengthening exercises.  Exercises such as planks, crunches, sit-ups and help make the back more robust to prevent back pain.

    Even with these suggestions, there is always the potential to sustain an injury to the neck or back.  If this is the case, contact Innovation Physical Therapy today. We’re here to help you, “Love Getting Better!”