School is here and parents ask the question: How much should my child be carrying in their backpacks?
Backpack safety for physical wellness is rarely considered by students. We have never been told to “lighten the load” in our backpacks or have been trained to consider the weight on the backs of children as a potential danger.
In one study, it was determined that children should carry no more than 10-15%, up to 20% of their weight. Another study used a formula: child’s weight x .15 = maximum backpack weight.
- A 50-pound child should carry a maximum of 7.5 pounds
- 100-pound child should carry a maximum of 15 pounds
- 150-pound child should carry a maximum of 22.5 pounds
The research studies indicate that physical problems such as back pain, neck or shoulder discomfort, or increased fatigue. If the backpack is worn over only one shoulder, the body weight is unevenly distributed, and this may cause upper or lower back pain or neck and shoulder strain.
- Backpacks with wider straps that are cushioned are best to avoid tingling in the arms
- Backpacks that are full can unintentionally harm others when the student turns abruptly
- Students can harm themselves if they trip over large backpacks
- Heavy backpacks cause imbalances in weight and the student needs to lean forward to walk and this is improper body posture
- By walking with a backpack too heavy, the student is at risk of bumping into others or falling from losing their balance
- The backpack needs to be carried on both shoulders for safety to shoulders, neck, and back
- Tighten the straps so the backpack rests two inches above the waist
- Choose a backpack that is lighter in material
- If the backpack has a waist belt, use it to evenly distribute the load
- Pack the heaviest items close to the center of the backpack