• Dr. Nicole Knapp

Choosing a Backpack for Your Child

Back pain is common among adults, teens, and children. An overweight backpack is the most common contributing factor for back pain in children and teens. Research shows that 60% of children who wear a backpack experience back pain as a result. Additionally, a research study in France suggests that the longer a child wears a backpack, the longer it will take for the deformity of the spine to correct itself.


The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends that a backpack is no more than 10% of a child’s body weight and encourages the use of ergonomically correct backpacks. A research study in Italy found that the average child carries a backpack that is equivalent to a 39-pound burden for 176-pound man or a 29-pound burden for 132-pound women (Visit ACA's Backpack Safety for more information).


When it comes time for back to school shopping, consider the following tips before purchasing a backpack for your child:

  • Limit the backpack weight to be no more than 5-10% of the child’s body weight.

  • Limit the size of the backpack. The larger the size, the heavier the backpack will be.

  • Ensure that the backpack does not hang more than four inches below the waistline.

  • Select a backpack with individualized compartments so that contents can be positioned effectively and pointy items can be package away from the child’s body.

  • Encourage your child to wear both shoulder straps for better support and to reduce the chance of muscle spams and lower back pain.

  • Select a backpack with wide, padded straps for additional comfort and better weight dispersion.

  • Choose a backpack with adjustable straps so that the backpack can be fitted to the child.

When buying your child a backpack, ensure that the backpack is the appropriate size for the child, has individualized compartments, has padded and adjustable shoulder straps, and a padded back. If you have questions, feel free to contact Dr. Nicole Knapp, D.C.

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