Myths about Backpacks and Kids

  • Post category:Spine Health


Kids have a lot to deal with at school. Between homework, quizzes, and traversing through their physical and emotional development, back pain should never be a concern for them. As parents, our job is to help our kids wear their backpacks safely by making some easy adjustments and tweaks. However, there is a lot of misconception on the topic of backpacks. Here are some myths about backpacks that can be easily resolved.

Myth #1: Heavy backpacks cause scoliosis

Wearing a heavy backpack can overload a child’s back, stressing muscles, ligaments, discs, joints, and other structures. This causes the spine to struggle to compensate. In the short term, a heavy backpack can cause muscle strains and other injuries to the back, shoulder, and/or neck. However, due to muscle imbalances, it could lead to postural changes over time. Scoliosis is a spinal abnormality with an unknown cause. When a child has scoliosis, the spine is over-rotated and curved from side to side, not forward and backward. Even though scoliosis is first noticed in adolescents, current research doesn’t support the idea that backpacks can structurally change a child’s growing spine.

Myth #2: Your child will tell you if their backpack is too heavy

Even if your child is strong and doesn’t complain about the heaviness of their backpack, you should still review their backpack habits. Sometimes the pain from a backpack will be mild to the child, so they will not say anything. They could also not know that the pain is being caused by their backpack. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that a child backpack should weigh at most 10% to 20% of their total body weight. For example, the backpack of a child who weighs 70 pounds should be at most 7 to 14 pounds. To get a feel for various weights, let your child experiment with different sized books in their backpack. Have them stand on the bathroom scale and place the books in their backpack. This helps them better associate what is an appropriate weight to carry.

Myth #3: Kids shouldn’t wear backpacks

It’s easy to overreact and want to completely rid backpacks for kids in school. However, it is important to know that human backs are designed for physical activity and movement. Helping your child stay active and giving light work to their backs is good for their body’s health. However, there are a few things that you can do to help your child wear their backpack safely. Rather than putting the bag on one shoulder having them use both straps to help keep their spine balanced. You can also buy a small backpack. Larger bags invite kids to put too much in to fill it. When buying a backpack for school, buy one that is an appropriate size for your child’s needs. You can also observe your child. If they are struggling to put on their backpack or need to lean forward while carrying it, it’s too heavy.

School is starting. Help your child keep their spines healthy by monitoring their backpack habits. A pain-free spine will help their minds focus on fun-and maybe their school work. If you are ever worried about your child’s spine, Contact Dr. Capicotto to set up a consultation.