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Back To School: Backpacks & Back Pain


An image of two kids with backpacks walking to school, used for a blog post about backpacks and back pain written by a chiropractor in Cambridge Ontario

Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly or improperly distributed can result in poor posture and

even distort your spinal column. This impact can throw your spine out of alignment, causing

muscle strain, headaches, back, neck, arm pain, and even nerve damage. More than 50 per cent

of young people experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years.

Research indicates one cause is improper use of backpacks. So, pack it light and wear it right.


Choose the right backpack

Go for lightweight vinyl or canvas material. Pick a pack that has two wide, adjustable, padded

shoulder straps along with a padded back. The pack should also have a hip or waist strap with

plenty of pockets.


Pack it properly

Make sure your child’s pack contains only what they need for that day and that the weight is

evenly distributed. The total weight of the filled pack should not be more than 10 to 15 per cent

of your child’s body weight.


Put it on safely

Put the pack on a flat surface, at waist height. Have your child slip on the pack one shoulder at a

time and then adjust the straps to fit comfortably.


Wear it right

Make sure your child uses both shoulder straps and ensure the pack is adjusted to fit snugly to

their body, without dangling to the side. You should be able to slide your hand between the

backpack and your child’s back.


Prevention is key. Teach your child how to properly use their backpacks and help them avoid an

injury. If your child is experiencing back pain, consult a chiropractor or other health care

professional. They will help assess your child’s specific needs and identify a care plan that’s

right for them.

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