Is Your Child’s Backpack Too Heavy - Kumon

Is Your Child’s Backpack Too Heavy

How much does your child’s backpack weigh? With the added weight of heavy textbooks, extra clothing or gear for sports and a musical instrument, some backpacks could weigh up to 20 pounds! The extra weight of lugging heavy backpacks around can result in chronic back pain, accidents or permanent orthopedic damage to your child’s growing bones.

One recent study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood assessed the backpacks and back health of over 1,400 students from ages 12-17 and discovered that over 60% of students were carrying backpacks weighing more than 10% of their body weight. Nearly 1/5 of students were carrying backpacks that weighed more than 15% of their body weight with ¼ of students stating that they suffered back pain for more than 15 days the previous school year.

What can you as a parent do to help?

One way is to identify whether or not your child’s backpack is too heavy. If your child has to lean forward when walking while carrying his or her backpack, it is too heavy. Additional signs include stooped posture, pain when wearing the backpack, tingling or numbness in the arms or red marks on the shoulders.  To reduce the load, work with your child and his or her teacher to determine which books can be left at school or at home.

In addition, make sure your child has the right backpack for his or her size. Help your child select a backpack that is no bigger than necessary (the more room in the pack, the more likely the child is to carry more items). Make sure it has wide, padded and adjustable shoulder straps. Adjust the shoulder straps so that when the bottom of the pack is filled, it lands no lower than four inches below the waist. Also, remind your child to always carry his or her backpack on both shoulders to prevent injuries to either shoulder.