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Pack it Light, Wear it Right!

The back-to-school blitz is finally in the rearview mirror, and now you can focus on those important day-to-day matters associated with raising healthy and happy children. As the kids stroll in the door after school, kick off their shoes, and drop their backpacks on the ground, you wouldn’t be the first parent to eyeball those packs after the first few days of class and wonder, ‘What do they need all of this stuff for!?’ Textbooks, daily supplies, lunches, and the requisite technology take up a lot of space.

By the time children reach their teen years, more than half of them have experienced some sort of lower back pain. Rest assured, a properly chosen and carried backpack can help alleviate this discomfort.

The dos are simple:

Pick it Right - Choose a pack made of lightweight materials that has wide, padded shoulder straps. Also make sure it is proportional - the top of the pack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder, and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.

Pack it Light - Keep your child’s pack between 10 to 15 percent of their body weight, while also ensuring it contains only what is needed for the day. Remember to spread the weight evenly throughout the pack with the heaviest items closest to the body.

Wear it Right - Make certain your child always uses both shoulder straps and they are adjusted to keep the pack snugly against your child’s body. The pack should sit two inches above the waist, while using the waist strap reduces strain on the back and transfers some of the load to the hips.

A good ‘do’ list is only as relevant as the opposing ‘don’t’ list. Keep these tips in mind as your kids walk out the door to school!

  • Never allow your child to sling their pack over one shoulder. This could cause the spine to lean, putting stress on the joints and muscles in the mid and lower back.

  • Don’t carry the pack too low. It can lead to leaning forward, which puts weight on the upper back and shoulders.

  • Don’t overload that pack!

It’s easy to focus on the right way to get your grade- school children set to take on the new year, but let’s not forget those hitting high school or post-secondary. All of the details mentioned still ring true. Whether it’s your grade-school kids, high schoolers, university students, or even you - if you Pick it Right, Pack it Light, and Wear it Right, your spine will thank you!

As spine and musculoskeletal (MSK) system experts, chiropractors are ideally positioned to help you make the proper backpack decisions for your youngsters as they prepare for yet another year of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Visit for more information and to find a chiropractor near you.


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