Back to School Backpack

Tiera Smith

July 15, 2022 · 4 min

Whether you have a child, teen, or young adult returning to school this year, we thought it would be important for a backpack reminder.

Backpacks hold anything from school books and binders to laptops and lunch boxes. It’s essential to know the correct way to wear a backpack and how heavy the bag should be for the optimal health of your child's spine and growth.

How much should a bag weigh?

Making sure that the bag is not too heavy is one of the biggest steps. A child’s bag should not weigh more than 10% of their average weight or 15% of a teenager’s average weight. This means that if your child is 80lbs, then their bag shouldn’t exceed 8lbs.

Having too much weight can be stressful to your child's body in many areas. A child's frame is small and adding extra weight to it can cause pain to:

• Neck
• Upper back/shoulders
• Mid-Low back
• Hips
• Knees
• Ankles
• Even their elbows

The younger population are strong little ones but making sure they don't have to carry a heavy load is strongly recommended for their spine health. If you feel their bag is too heavy for them, but it has only the essentials, it may be better to carry it for them.

Type of Bags

There are many fun and exciting backpacks that kids want. Some are perfect for the proper weight distribution shoulder to shoulder and some are more one-sided and weight-bearing.

We understand that making your child happy is most of the time the more desired option, however, to help reduce the chance of daily pain or back problems in the future, it is better to pick the right bag.

Here are some types of bags and their pros and con:

All of the above bags have desirable things for each child. However, wearing a backpack incorrectly or using one arm to wear or pull the bag can have negative impacts on your child's spinal alignment.

A regular backpack makes less impact on the body when worn appropriately. They evenly distribute the weight throughout the bag and can even alleviate some stress from the shoulders if the waist straps are used.

Shoulder bags or side purses are commonly worn on one side of the body. If the bag is light (only a few pounds) it is okay to use but for a student with books and a lunch box, this can negatively impact their body’s alignment and cause body pain.

Rolling bags were all the rage and highly recommended to reduce back strain from heavy backpacks. However, in recent years these bags have shown to cause a different type of strain on the back. With children pulling these bags with one arm every day to and from school there can be pain in the shoulder or upper back. In addition, when filling the bag for the day you would need to do less than 10% of your child's body weight due to the weight of the metal and/or plastic in the bag from the handle and wheels.

How to see the signs

Even if your child is wearing their bag properly they may still get some soreness. Loosened uneven straps, worn straps and/or padding, or broken waist straps can all be a sign to get a new bag and have your child checked in with a chiropractor.

Kids are young but they still deal with aches and pains that are not always attributed to growth spurts. If your child complains of any of the below checking in with a chiropractor may be necessary:

• Neck pain
• Upper back pain
• Shoulder pain
• Lower back or hip pain
• Headaches
• Poor posture including forward head carriage, rounded shoulders, and upper back

Making sure our kids grow with the least pain daily really helps with their studies, emotional control, and day-to-day life. Side tip: it helps mom and dad too!

Chiropractic care for children and teens often involves gentle adjustments, soft tissue therapy, stretching, and rehab guidance for posture correction. Since children’s bodies are still growing, it is especially important to make sure their muscles, joints, and bones stay in good health. Give us a call at (604) 496-0626, email at, or book online at


Rai, A., & Agarawal, S. (n.d.). Back problems due to heavy backpacks in school children. Back Problems Due To Heavy Backpacks in School Children. Retrieved July 1, 2022, from