Back to School

It’s that time again.  Students are getting ready for the new school year.  They and their parents are school shopping, and one of the key items on the list is a backpack.  Whether starting kindergarten or finishing your senior year of college your backpack is going to be heavy.  Backpacks are a concern of chiropractors because we see the damage from them in our offices.  Unsurprisingly studies have found a link between backpacks and back pain, and it seems to be increasing in our youth.  (Seriously, have you seen the size of some of their textbooks lately?)  Despite our great access to information online or in digital forms students are often still asked to haul sometimes massive weight.

There are many things that you can do to reduce the stress on your self, your children or your students.

  • Make sure the backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of body weight.  That’s about 5-10lbs for most elementary school kids.
  • The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.
  • Buy a backpack with individualized compartments  to positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your back.
  • Smaller backpacks will not allow you to overload your body, and they will fit children better.
  • Wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
  • Wide, padded, and adjustable straps are very important to ensure proper fit and comfort.
  • Be actively involved in your school and community.  Encourage schools to adopt policies that limit backpack weight, such as using workbooks, books with DVD content, provide assignments online discuss options with teachers and administrators.  Be creative, and understanding.

2 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. Chris

    how about recommending a backpack with wheels, like the one I take on plane trips with me regularly. It can be put on my back, or it can be loaded up, and I would pull out the handle, and then just wheel it around. much easier on my back, and plus it looks really cool, which I think is important in school… at least my kids seem to think that that is important.

    1. cmnacnud Post author

      It’s nice to see that you’ve found me here Chris. I don’t have a recommendation on what bag to get for a couple of reasons. But mainly because, every body is different, and what works for one may not work for another. I try to give guidelines to enable people to make better choices on their own. I don’t want people to think that their backpack is not right because I didn’t recommend it even though it works well for them. Cool backpacks are what kids worry about, but cool doesn’t always mean quality.

      Regarding the rolling backpacks some are good quality and may be right for you or your child. Things to be aware of with them are:
      -They are being banned in many schools
      -Are often of cheap quality (especially the kids ones), fall apart or are not stable to pull causing more problems
      -They lend themselves to overloading of the pack and carried on the back anyway
      -They are often bulky, don’t fit in lockers, down school bus isles, are difficult at best over rough terrain or grass, and cause problems on stairs (adults tend to use these things as luggage in a smooth airport or on the sidewalk, kids don’t)

      The best things that I can recommend is keep your load light, have well padded and wide straps and make sure the pack is no more than 4 inches below your waist (for the youth, the waist is about the level of your belly button not where you wear your pants). Choose what’s right for you. Spend some time trying them on.

      For some additional reading info on the topic here is an article from the NY Times.
      And here are some decent guidelines from consumer reports.


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