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Back-to-School: Backpack Health

Kid wearing backpack on bike

Back-to-school season means new responsibilities for students, and more than likely, an over-stuffed backpack.

What many parents may not realize is that a too-heavy backpack can lead to serious back, shoulder, and neck pain.

To alleviate these issues for your child, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that children shouldn’t carry a backpack that exceeds 15 to 20 percent of his or her body weight. With 15 percent as the conservative target, here’s a breakdown by body weight for how much your child should be carrying around in his or her backpack:

Child’s Weight vs. Backpack Weight:

  • 50 pounds = 7.5 pounds
  • 75 pounds = 11.25 pounds
  • 100 pounds = 15 pounds
  • 125 pounds = 18.75 pounds
  • 150 pounds = 22.5 pounds

Try these tips to lighten your child’s load:

  • Have your child evaluate what they truly need to bring home each day.
  • Check-in with teachers to see what resources can be utilized electronically. You can also ask if there are books that aren’t needed every day, so they can be stored at home.
  • Use all of the pockets! Dispersing the weight around a bag makes a huge difference on a child’s back and shoulders.
  • Encourage your child to use both backpack straps to even out the stress put on the shoulders and back.

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