Ortho docs ask: Is your child's backpack too heavy?

August 29, 2012

Rosemont, IL – Backpacks should only be as heavy as 10-15 percent of a child’s body weight, recommends the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Overly heavy backpacks may injure a youth’s muscles and joints, as well as cause pain in the back, neck and shoulders. Parents also should be aware of their child’s posture when lifting and carrying backpacks.

AAOS offers these additional safety tips:

  • Make sure the backpack’s straps are tightened, and use both shoulder straps and a waist strap if available to better distribute weight.
  • Lift the backpack properly by bending at the knees.
  • Reduce backpack weight by placing the heaviest items closest to the back and leaving unnecessary books at home or school.

Parents should encourage their children to report any pain, discomfort or tingling after using a heavy backpack, and check for red marks on the shoulders, AAOS said in a press release.