Heavy backpacks are a concern especially for smaller children and adolescents. Improper use or overloaded back packs can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain. Studies have looked at percentage of body weight that is acceptable to prevent injury and 10-15% seems to be the maximum weight. So if your child weighs 100 pounds, their backpack should only weigh 10-15 pounds. Have the child weigh with the backpack on, and then subtract the weight of the child without the backpack to determine the weight of the backpack.
Backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teenagers. Improperly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.
Other tips to prevent injury include:
• Use wide padded straps
• Use both shoulder straps
• Be sure the back is padded
• Use a waist strap if available
• Keep all straps snug to ensure the backpack weight stays close to the body
If your child is complaining of pain and has an excessively heavy backpack, alternatives include getting a rolling backpack or buying an extra set of textbooks to keep at home. Always try to organize a backpack so all non-essential weight is removed. Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about numbness, tingling, or discomfort in the arms or legs which may indicate poor backpack fit or too much weight being carried. If the pain persists, the child should seek medical attention.