Pack Smart

Back to School Tips from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
Your Child's Backpack Could Cause Serious Growing Pains

Backpacks are a handy way for your child to carry his books and other school materials. 

But they can also put strain on his back muscles and joints and cause back pain if used incorrectly.

Help your child avoid lower back pain and injury this year by following our tips.

  • How do I choose a safe backpack?

      Your child's backpack should not be wider than his body.

      Buy a backpack with two wide, padded straps that go over the shoulders. Make sure your child uses both straps at all times.

      We recommend using a backpack with a padded waist or chest belt. This distributes weight more evenly across the body. Multiple compartments also help distribute the weight.

      Consider a backpack with a metal frame (like hikers use) or on wheels (like a flight attendant's bag). Check with your child's school first to see if these types of bags are allowed.

  • How should my child wear a backpack?

      Make sure the straps are pulled tight so the bottom part of the backpack sits no lower on the back then the beltline. If the backpack sits too low then there is increased pressure on the shoulders.

      When fully loaded, your child's backpack should weigh less than 15 percent of his body weight. Use your bathroom scale to measure the maximum backpack load so your child can know what it should feel like.

      Heavier items should be placed closer to the back of the backpack, near the body.

  • What if my child is still struggling with his backpack?

      Make sure your child isn't toting unnecessary items like laptops, video games, and shoes or clothing. These can add a lot of pounds to a backpack.

      Picking up the backpack properly is important. As with any heavy object, your child should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting it to his shoulders.

      Encourage your child to develop stronger lower back and abdominal muscles. This will help avoid back injury. Weight training and yoga are two activities that can help strengthen these core muscles.


    Heavy Backpacks Could Cause Back Pain, Other Serious Problems

    Dr. David Marshall, our medical director for sports medicine, tells Fox 5 that heavy backpacks put kids at risk for injuries and headaches.

Back to School Tips from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta   Breathe Easy   Healthy Lunches   sleeping girl