Your Child's Backpack Could be a Spine Hazard

School is starting, and with it, millions of children will be trudging out the door every morning, with a backpack full of books. But, carrying anything too heavy on the back is dangerous. The reality is that over 15,000 kids will be injured this year by wearing backpacks. Spine and shoulder injuries and poor posture are the results of an improperly heavy or poorly fitting backpack. 


The problem isn’t just carrying textbooks, which are gruesomely heavy and often hardback. Add a notebook for each class or a laptop and other paraphernalia necessary for school survival, and those pounds easily add up. The other problem is also that many children only have a few minutes in between classes, and are rushed through lunch, making a visit to their locker between classes impractical. Even going to the bathroom is problematic.

Before you send your child to school like an overburdened land snail, here are some ways to lighten their load.

A good fit

Take your child to a sporting goods store and ask them to measure your child for the proper size and fit of a backpack. Most of the weight should be on the child’s hips, not their back and shoulders. Have the associate show your child how to adjust their pack to the safest and most comfortable position. 

Quality design

Packs should have thick, padded straps and a waist strap. They should only be 10-15% of a child’s total body weight, and heavier items should be toward the bottom and closer to the body.

Ask the school to have in-class textbooks.

While some schools have implemented an in-room book policy, in other situations, it isn't practical. But, as more schools recognize the damage heavy backpacks can do to young bodies, they’re implementing an in-class book set for student use, so children don’t have to be overburdened with textbooks.  

Final note

According to this study, students learn more from an actual book than they do an electronic source.  While a paper source isn’t always available if your child is assigned a novel to read, head down to the used bookstore to get a used paperback instead of a hardback copy when you can. 


As we’ve mentioned before, injuries to children caused by backpacks are common, but it’s essential to note that these injuries are not acute. In other words, while backpacks cause chronic pain and damage, they don’t cause damage severe enough to go to the Emergency room. 

The reason this lack of severity is significant is that he will make a regular practice of either arching the back or be bending forward at the hips. This odd posture will cause abnormal pressure on the spine. If a parent notices this type of pose, immediate steps should be taken to reduce the load. It is likely that the parent will need to be the one who does notice and take action since no one else is likely to notice and intervene. The child may not know such an overload is unnatural unless the parent speaks up.

We hope this information will give you an opportunity to consider your child’s spine health. 

When you’re injured in a car accident, there is no reason to delay treatment due to lack of insurance or while waiting for insurance approval. Here at Northeast Portland Chiropractic, we treat car accident cases with zero out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Call 503-493-9730.