Backpack Safety tips for Back to School!

Posted on in Kid's Health by Dr. John Kim

Summer break is wrapping up, and our kids are getting ready to head back to school. If you’re shopping for a new backpack for the year ahead, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how their spines can be negatively affected by what they carry on their backs each day.

Heavy backpacks can have a negative impact on the posture and spinal health of children.

The American Academy of Orthopedists stated that:

58% have seen patients complaining about back or shoulder pain related to backpacks.

Medical professionals advise that individuals carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight on their backs.

Many children, teens and adults are carrying up to 40lbs and are potentially injuring themselves.

So what can you do to ensure that your kids backpacks don’t way they down this year?

Ways to Prevent Injury

Step 1: Choose Right

Choosing the right size backpack is the most important step to safe backpack use.

  • Choose a backpack with thickly padded shoulder straps – Non-padded straps dig into the shoulders causing pain due to compression loading of the acromio-clavicular joints and stress on the trapezius muscles.
  • Choose a backpack with a lumbar support – The lumbar cushion will redistribute weight to the lower extremities, creating a fulcrum that facilitates an upright standing position and good posture that is essential for proper spinal health

Tip: Have a sales associate/parent help you measure your backpack properly.

Step 2: Pack Right

  • The maximum weight of the loaded backpack should not exceed 15 % of your body weight, so pack only what is needed.
  • Distribute the weight properly – Put the heavier items on the bottom and against the back to keep the weight off of your shoulders and maintain a better posture
Backpack safety tips from Kim Family Chiropractic

Tip: If the backpack forces the wearer to move forward to carry, it’s overloaded.

Step 3: Lift Right

  • Face the Pack -Bend at the Knees – Use both hands and check the weight of the pack.  Lift with the legs – Apply one shoulder strap and then the other.  Keep the pack close to the body. Carry only what you need.
Backpack Safety Tips from Kim Family Chiropractic

Tip: Don’t sling the backpack onto one shoulder

Step 4: Wear Right

  • Use both shoulder straps – snug, but not too tight.
  • Carrying a heavy backpack using one strap can shift the weight to one side, which can lead to neck and muscle spasms, low back pain and abnormal gait.
Backpack Safety Tips from Kim Family Chiropractic

Tip: When the backpack has a waist strap – use it.

If you have any questions regarding posture or children’s spinal health, please contact our office by requesting consult, and a team member will be in touch with you shortly.



Dr. Kim was born and raised in Toronto and attended high school at St. Michael’s College School. Later, he attended McMaster University and received a Bachelor of Kinesiology, the scientific study of human movement. After university, Dr. Kim decided to enroll at Palmer College of Chiropractic, in Davenport, Iowa, in the United States. After graduating in 2002, Dr. Kim remained in the United States working alongside highly respected Chiropractors in the Chicago area. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Kim established Kim Family Chiropractic in Milton, Ontario

Kim Family Chiropractic

180 Ontario St S
Milton, ON L9T 2M8