Create your balance. Design your life.

Backpack Back

By David Wages, DC

heavy-backpackDoes your child’s backpack seem like it outweighs your child? Backpack load may be more serious than you think. Some experts are saying that heavy backpack use has a destructive impact on the posture and spinal health of children. Furthermore, today’s heavy loads may be causing injuries that can last a lifetime! Many recent studies have been performed to show the devastating effects that these heavy loads have on growing spines. It has been found that backpack injuries are up 330% since 1996. A Simmons College study demonstrated that 55% of students carry more than the recommended national guidelines of 10-15% of your body weight. Sixty-six percent of school nurses report seeing students with pain or injury attributed to carrying backpacks. The University of Michigan finds that 60% of children will experience back pain by the time they reach 18 years of age. The best way to keep these statistics down and protect our children’s spinal health is to instruct them how to use a backpack properly. Recently, 65% of children who reported to the doctor regarding a backpack injury were instructed to simply modify the use of the backpack to improve their problem. Here are some simple tips:

  • Distribute the weight properly. Put the heavier items on the bottom and against the back to keep the weight off of your shoulders and maintain a better posture.
  • Wear both shoulder straps unless your pack is designed for use on one shoulder (which usually is not recommended). Carrying a heavy backpack using one strap can shift the weight to one side, which can lead to neck and muscle spasms, low back pain and walking improperly.
  • Choose a backpack with thickly padded shoulder straps. Non-padded straps dig into the shoulders causing pain due to compressional loading of the acromioclavicular joints and stress the trapezius and surrounding musculature.
  • Choose a backpack with lumbar support. The lumbar cushion will redistribute weight to the lower extremities, creating a fulcrum that facilitates an upright standing position and good posture that is essential for proper spinal health.
  • Use an ergonomic backpack. Shift the weight off the shoulders, neck and upper back to the lower back. This will prevent injury and is more comfortable.
  • Lift Correctly.

1. Face the backpack before you lift it.
2. Bend at the knees and lift with your legs not your back.
3. Keep the pack close to your body.

  • Carry only what you need. Every extra item adds weight!


David Wages, DC, from AdvancedCare Chiropractic, is dedicated to helping patients achieve their wellness objectives — combining skill and expertise that spans the entire chiropractic wellness spectrum.  

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest the patient in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”  Thomas Edison

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