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Back to school backpack safety tips

October 21, 2021
Backpack Tips

Kids may enjoy being back on campus, but carrying books from class to class can be a pain in the back!

Learn how following a few simple backpack guidelines can help your child avoid back pain, with tips from an expert at St. Francis Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy.

Carrie Pena, DPT, physical therapist at Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy, says it’s important to think about what your child will be using to carry their supplies around. “Despite many schools transitioning to electronic tablets instead of textbooks, children are often still carrying heavy backpacks with them between classes, which can have physical consequences including back, shoulder and neck pain, poor posture and fatigue.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10-15% of their body weight. For example, a 60-pound child’s backpack should weigh no more than 6-9 pounds.

Carrie explains, in addition to the pack’s weight, it is important to consider the style of backpack your child uses. “Two wide straps, worn snugly against the body, are ideal to distribute weight evenly between the shoulders.” Parents should encourage the child to wear both straps when walking around the school, because using one strap fails to distribute the weight appropriately and can cause back pain and posture problems.

Some backpack bonus features include padded straps, which keep them from digging in to little shoulders, and waist or chest straps, to help secure the backpack weight close to the body. An alternative style is the cross body bag, which distributes the weight evenly across the body.

“Regardless of style, kids should make sure to pack their backpacks correctly. The heaviest items should go in the bottom center, utilize pockets for smaller items to distribute weight, and leave anything that isn’t absolutely necessary at home or in their locker,” Carrie says.

If you find that your child is complaining of pain or fatigue despite using a backpack that fits these specifics, physical therapists at St. Francis Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy can help identify and treat any underlying issues to help your child move more comfortably and focus on learning and having fun at school!

St. Francis Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy is located in Chaska and Savage. To learn more, or to make an appointment, visit, or call the Chaska location at 952.428.1265 or the Savage location at 952.428.1565.

Category: Health & Wellness