Back to Backpacks

Child with backpack

By Ole Raustol, MD

While back-to-school fashions may vary, backpacks never go out of style. But a backpack filled with books, notebooks, papers and other necessities can weigh enough to put a child at risk for back and shoulder pain. The following tips can help you ease the load for your child.

When choosing a backpack, look for:

  • Wide, padded shoulder straps. Some new backpacks have strings that can dig into the shoulders causing pain and restricting circulation.
  • Padded back. A padded back increases comfort and protects against sharp edges on objects inside the pack

To prevent aches and pains:

  • Pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s body weight.
  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back.
  • A rolling backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load, but check with your child’s school before you purchase one to make sure they are allowed.

Dr. Raustol practices with CHKD Health System’s Children’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine..