How to Choose the Right Back to School Backpack

Jace Buzek Pediatric Chiropractor

When choosing the right back to school backpack, most families focus on finding the right character, color, or brand. Unfortunately, though, choosing fashion over function might hurt your child’s back by causing chronic back pain or even structural issues down the road. Getting the right backpack is critical for keeping your child’s spine happy and healthy. We’re here to make this choice a bit easier!

Before choosing a backpack, make sure to check your child’s school regulations and guidelines that relate to backpacks and backpack safety.

When you’re ready to choose:

  • Find a backpack with a waist belt. A waist belt helps distribute the backpack load while reducing stress on the lumbar spine.

  • Pick a backpack with multiple compartments. The more areas to place heavy supplies, the more evenly the weight will be distributed.

  • Go smaller instead of larger. A smaller backpack offers less opportunity to over pack and weight down.

  • Be sure the shoulder straps are wide and padded. Wide, padded shoulder straps will minimize contact points and reduce soft tissue compression.

  • Consider a backpack on wheels. Wheels help eliminate stress on your child’s back while still providing the ability to carry a heavy workload to and from school.

Once you’ve found the perfect backpack:

  • Minimize the amount of non-essentials in the backpack. Extra supplies that are rarely used increase the overall weight.

  • Place the heaviest items closest to the back. Keep the load central on the body, making it easier to carry.

  • Keep the shoulder straps tight. Loose straps will cause the backpack to sag and increase the compressive forces on the lumbar spine, thus causing an exaggerated curvature of the spine.

  • Keep the weight of the backpack under 10% of your child’s body weight.  Heavy backpacks often cause children to lean forward, which can affect body alignment.

Happy back to school backpack shopping! If you have questions or want to chat about some of our favorite backpacks, let us know at your next visit!

Jace Buzek