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Are Backpacks Bad For Your Back?

It’s back to school time. Although this year may look significantly different than other years, some things won’t change. One of those things is that, if a child attends school in person, they’ll probably bring with them books, supplies, and possibly even a laptop. The backpack has been the go-to bag for most students. But, are backpacks bad for your kids’ backs?

are backpacks bad for your back

So, Are Backpacks Bad For Your Back?

The answer is, it depends. There are a few factors that affect whether or not a child will experience back pain from a backpack: weight of the backpack (in relation to their own weight), how long they carry the bag, and their gender.

Backpack Weight (As Compared to The Child’s Weight)

Based on the evidence we have today that backpacks can cause back pain in adolescents, the American Chiropractic Association recommends children don’t carry backpacks that are over 10% of their body’s weight. That means a 50-lb first grader shouldn’t be carrying more than 5lbs in their backpack. A 100-lb child shouldn’t be carrying a backpack weighing over 10 pounds.

How Long the Child Carries the Backpack

In addition to the weight of the backpack, the amount of time the child carries the bag also influences its impact on their back. A French study of how backpacks affect children’s backs discovered that the longer a child carried a heavy backpack, the longer it took for the curvature of the spine to return to normal.


Interestingly, an Italian study of how backpacks affect children’s backs discovered that girls were much more susceptible to experiencing back pain from their backpack than boys. The study suggests there is a physical, anatomical, or environmental factor that causes this difference.

So, are backpacks bad for your back? They can be. If your child is attending school this year and carrying a backpack, try to limit the amount of heavy items they are carrying in it. Carrying too much weight and carrying it for too long can cause them back pain.  Worse yet, experiencing back pain at a young age can be an indicator that the individual will experience chronic back pain when they’re older.

See Also: Back Pain in Children




*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
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