Health Risks of Heavy Backpacks


As a child grows, so does his or her backpack. Higher studies demand heavier books. And while carrying the load of education, children often suffer from health problems such as back pain.

A study done on 3,500 students aged 11 to 15 showed that around 64% have reported having back pain and almost 90% of the recipients said their back pain was "bad" or "very bad."

The Dangers

When a backpack is worn properly, its weight is distributed evenly across the body and injuries are less common. But heavy and incorrectly worn backpacks pose the following risks:

  • Heavy backpacks force children to lean forward which may cause neck and shoulder pain
  • Leaning can also cause lower back pain and muscle tightness
  • Long-term exposures can damage the backbone
  • Overweight backpacks can cause knee pains
  • Hips become sore if the child bends forward for too long
  • When heavy load is put on shoulders, joints and muscles get tight and creates strains

How Heavy is too Heavy?

Students carrying backpacks heavier compared to their body weight were more prone to have back pain and other health problems. Studies show that backpacks heavier than 20% of the body weight of the children cause serious back pains. A child should not carry loads more than 10%-15% of his or her body weight. For example, a child weighing 70 pounds should not carry a backpack heavier than 7 pounds.

Lightening the Load

To protect the precious backs of your kids, here are some things to do:

  • Using a lightweight backpack with many compartments
  • Choosing backpacks ending above the waist, with padded back, shoulder straps and a belt
  • Wearing backpacks on both shoulders and close to the body
  • Carrying only what's needed and not cramming unnecessary things
  • Lifting and carrying the backpack properly. Knees should be bent while picking up the backpack.
  • Using backpacks with wheels

Ensuring Safety

Following these precautions would keep your child away from back pain. However, if he or the already feels pain or numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, you should consult a doctor immediately.