Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students

Does your child complain of aching shoulders? Tingling arms? Do they have bad posture? The school bag might be to blame. Mighty Mommy has some crucial tips on how to lighten your child's load. 

Cheryl Butler
2-minute read

Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students

Aching backs and shoulders? Tingling arms? Stooped posture? Does your child have these symptoms? Carrying too much weight in a backpack or wearing it the wrong way can lead to pain and strain. With school now in session, parents can take steps to help their children load and wear backpacks the correct way to avoid health problems.

Loading a Pack

• A child’s backpack should weigh no more than about 10% of his or her body weight. This means a student weighing 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than about 10 pounds.

• Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack).

• Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.

• Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.

• If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand carry a book or other item outside the pack.

• If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a wheelie bag if your child’s school allows it.

Wearing a Pack

• Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.

• Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves. If they routinely receive too much pressure, that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands.

• Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.

• Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the weight more evenly.

• The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline.

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About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.