Earlier this week, we broke down how to pick the perfect backpack for your child. But how should it actually be worn? Keep reading to find out.

Studies have shown that between 8% and 74% of children and adolescents have experienced back pain at some point in their lives [1]. Although these statistics are vague, the reality is: kids experience back pain too.

We all know the ache that comes with carrying a particularly heavy load either on our shoulders or backs. It’s important to note that the little aches that adults can brush off with a hot bath or a good night’s sleep are exacerbated for children and teens whose bodies are still developing, and are more sensitive to heavy loads.

There are steps we can take as parents and caregivers to set the children and teens in our lives up for success (or at least save them from unnecessary back pain).

Here’s how to ensure your child’s backpack isn’t be a pain in the back:

1. Be wary of weight.

Aim to keep your child’s backpack at or below 10% of their total body weight. Back and neck pain are associated risks when a child or adolescent’s backpack exceeds this amount [1], [2], so keep an eye out for those overloaded bags when possible.

They may not know it now, but your kids may end up having you to thank for their pain-free play at the end of the day.

2. Stick with symmetry.

When trying backpacks on, check to see whether the bag’s straps are adjustable to ensure that the bag lines up with your

Many studies have shown that consistently carrying asymmetrical and single-strapped bags is directly linked to harmful (and preventable) changes in the way individuals of all ages move [3]. This is a common cause of neck and back pain as well as a handful of other concerns associated with poor posture.

How can I prevent these issues for myself and my children?

Opt for symmetrical bags whenever possible to prevent postural problems associated with neck and back pain in children and adults alike.

3. Consider what really needs to be carried.

A study published by the University of North Carolina [4] confirmed what many of us have already assumed: children who walk to school are more likely to experience back pain.

How can we help our kids who walk to and from school or transit?

One way we can lighten their loads is by reevaluating which items really need to be carried each day. For instance, there may be options to leave books in lockers or cubbies at school, to only bring certain books on certain days of the week or to find online learning resources that suit your child’s learning needs.

Wondering what else can be done to optimize your family’s health and well-being? Subscribe to the blog to keep learning!