Teenager Carrying Backpack Incorrectly

Backpack Misuse Can Lead to Long-Term Health Problems or Injuries

Carefully Select a Backpack That Has Wide Straps to Prevent Your Child From Having Neck or Shoulder Problems

When you are selecting a backpack for your child, make sure that you choose a backpack that has wide straps.  Wide straps not only help distribute the weight properly but it also prevents the shoulder straps from digging into your shoulders.  If your child is carrying a backpack that has thin or narrow straps, you should immediately replace the backpack to avoid circulation and nerve problems.  Symptoms of circulation or nerve problems from thin, narrow straps include: weakness in the arms or hands, tingling sensation (similar to that feeling when your extremities fall asleep), numbness, shoulder pain, or upper back pain.

Teach Your Child How to Protect Their Back From Injuries and Potential Problems in the Future

Your child’s back consists of 33 bones and there are discs that are between each vertebrae.  The discs in your back act as a shock absorber and protect the bones in your back from rubbing against each other.  The discs are filled with a gel like fluid and over time the disc will start breaking down.  If the back is subjected to constant abuse you have a higher risk for arthritis, degenerative disc disease, slipped disc, a herniated disc, or other back problems.  When your child is young, it is important to teach them the importance of taking care of their back.

What Happens to Your Child’s Back When They Are Constantly Carrying A Backpack That Is Too Heavy

When your child carries more than 15 to 20% of their body weight on their shoulders, it is can cause stress on your child’s neck, shoulders, and back.  A backpack that is too heavy will often cause your child’s spine to bend slightly backwards.  When your child feels their back bending slightly backwards, most children will bend forward trying to compensate the extra weight on their back.   Never bend at the hips or arch your back to compensate a heavy load.  In fact, if your child is bending or leaning forward incorrectly it can cause the vertebrae in your spine to compress the disc or nerves.  Compressing the discs or nerves unnaturally over and over can cause your child to continually damage the discs, nerves, or the vertebrae in their spine.  If you child starts complaining of neck, shoulder, pain between their shoulder blades, or back pain, you should immediately check to see if their backpack is too heavy and have them evaluated by a doctor.

Teach Your Child To Lighten Their Load on a Daily Basis

When your child comes home each day from school, have them clean out their backpack and remove any unnecessary items.  If your child’s backpack is anything like my older son’s, it is always overflowing with returned papers or he has it stuffed full with all of his belongings.  Teach your child to only put the items that they need into their backpack.  If it is too heavy, tell them to carry some of the items in their hand to avoid unnecessary strain on their back.  If possible, talk to your child in order to determine if they are carrying to many books in their backpack during the day.  As a student, I remember that I had to carry several books in my backpack because it wasn’t convenient to stop by my locker after each class.  Instead, teach your child the importance of dropping off unused books or items into their locker periodically during the day so that they are only carrying around the things they need during class.

Prevent Long-Term Health Problems

I suffer from chronic low back pain and I know how important it is to take care of your back.  Your back is very fragile and one wrong move or injury could leave you or your child with long-term health problems.  My pain was caused by a car accident and over the years things have gotten progressively worse (typical aging problems).  My initial injury never fully healed when I was younger.  I wrote this post to help inform parents of the potential long-term health problems that can be easily prevented.

Learn the truth about rolling backpacks before you purchase one for your student.

Does your child wear his or her backpack incorrectly?  Have you ever weighed your child’s backpack to determine if they are carrying around to much on a daily basis?


6 responses to “Backpack Misuse Can Lead to Long-Term Health Problems or Injuries”

  1. Leigh @oneandoneequalstwinfun.com Avatar

    Backpacks can do awful things to your back! Glad they now have the pull alongs. Great tips!!!

  2. Corinne Avatar

    Wow! I guess I knew heavy backpacks were bad (I mean how can they not be?) but didn’t realize how bad. My daughter is in 1st grade and I do have to remind her to take out all the excess paper she likes to keep in there. As she gets older, we will probably have to switch to a rolling bag to avoid any problems.

  3. Anna M Avatar

    I remember in middle school/high school just how bad my backpack was at times.. So stuffed it wouldn’t zipper and sometimes I thought the straps would break right off the backpack. I read recently that there are a few schools switching over to digital textbooks.. I think it’d be awesome if it catches on so that kids won’t have to worry about all these back problems from carrying too much weight in the backpacks!

  4. The Momarchy Ladies Avatar

    This is actually extremely useful. I cannot tell you how many times I remember from my childhood feeling extremely uncomfortable due to my backpack being so heavy!

  5. rhonda Avatar


    Your back is at the core of you, and it’s so true, that absolutely have to take care. I’ve seen epople with awful trouble with their backs, and it always stems from something that has happened or some sort of strain. It makes perfect sense that kids, especially, need to be supervised and close attention paid to those backpacks. Excellent article.

  6. Michelle Avatar

    I know my kids backpacks have been way too heavy at times. At our high school they use block scheduling so the kids don’t need to bring everything home every night, but in the younger grades they do. I try to get them to carry less! All the more reason to switch to tablets like some of the school systems are!