Back(Pack) to School Safety

Backpacks are a very popular and effective way to haul around school supplies and books. They have grown to double as a fashion item to show off your child’s favorite colors, sports team, or animated characters. However, care must be taken to keep in mind the stress it is causing on your child’s spine when worn improperly. Following some simple guidelines can both make your child more comfortable, as well as take stress off of their growing spine and nervous system.

Often times people think of injuries being caused by major events, or big traumas that occur with a significant force. In adults, this is often thought of in times of car accidents or run-ins with heavy machinery. In kids, this may be a bike accident or falling off of the swing set. However, injuries also commonly occur as a result of many smaller forces applied repetitively over time. For example, adults with desk jobs that require utilizing a computer can often relate. Similarly, kids may be exposed to repeated stress carrying items too heavy for them or inappropriately worn, such as backpacks and their contents.

One of the biggest concerns of improper backpack usage is the postural imbalance created, and the stress placed on your child’s spine while trying to compensate for this imbalance. These postural distortions may lead to back soreness and/or injury, but more importantly are putting undue stress on their growing nervous system, adversely affecting how the body functions. The school-age years are a vital time for development, as the body is rapidly growing. Just as kids often will see their pediatrician and dentist for regular check-ups, it is wise to take them to a chiropractor to get their spine examined.

Another thing to consider is the amount of physical activity your child is getting. In this age of technology (TV, computers, video games, etc), less time seems to be allotted towards playing outside and being active, leaving our youth less conditioned. Encouraging your children to stay active and move in a variety of ways, along with instilling a desire to enjoy doing so when young, will go a long ways in preparing your child to better handle physical stresses as they age, both normal and abnormal.

Making sure your kids are practicing proper backpack usage, in addition to keeping them active and getting their spine regularly checked by a chiropractor, can help their bodies grow and function properly.

Here are some simple tips for safe backpack use, as stated by Jeanne Ohm, D.C., the Executive Coordinator of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, in a Pathways article:

  1. Wear both straps and avoid the one-strap styled back packs. Uneven distribution of the load causes postural compensations and spinal stress.
  2. When putting on and removing backpacks, bend at the knees or have the pack at a higher level such as on a desk or table. Sudden twisting motion adds to the potential of injury.
  3. Arrange the backpack so it rests evenly in the middle of the back. Shoulder straps should be adjusted to allow the child to put on and take off the backpack without difficulty and permit free movement of the arms. Straps should not be too loose, and the backpack should not extend below the lower back.
  4. Keep the load at 10-15% or less of the student’s body weight.
  5. Carry only those items that are required for the day. Request additional textbooks to be kept at home instead of hauling heavy books to and from school.
  6. Organize the contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the back.


If you have any further questions on back pack safety, or would like your child’s spine and back pack wearing habits checked, feel free to contact us here at Eldora Family Chiropractic & Wellness Center. Have a healthy school year!