Backpack Safety

Healthy Living Steward Health Care

Did You Know?

  • Overloaded backpacks can cause muscle and joint pain
  • Children and adolescents complain of back and shoulder pain, which causes them to miss school and sports activities
  • There are suggested weight limits for children to carry, which will prevent potential injury

What Type of Backpack Should You Buy?

  1. Purchase a lightweight backpack and one that is the correct size for your child
  2. Wide padded straps and padded back make carrying the backpack more comfortable
  3. There should be waist and chest straps
  4. Backpacks on wheels are good alternatives to the traditional backpack

Key Points to Remember

  1. Wide straps to distribute the weight
  2. A padded back to reduce pressure on the back
  3. Reflective material
  4. Multiple compartments to help distribute the weight
  5. Waist and chest belts to transfer weight from the back to the hips and chest
  6. Wear BOTH straps of the backpack to distribute the weight
  7. Keep heavier items closer to the back center of the backpack
  8. Keep lighter items in front of the backpack

Red Flags

  1. Numbness or tingling in arms, hands, wrists
  2. Red marks or creases on shoulders
  3. Aching in shoulders, neck or back

What Are Acceptable Weight Limits?

Backpacks should weigh only about 10 percent of the child’s weight.

Helpful Hints

  1. Pack only what is needed
  2. Put heavy objects in the bottom of the pack and distribute weight evenly
  3. Adjust all straps so they are not loose

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment visit Steward DoctorFinder™ or call 1-800-488-5959.

*Source: American Physical Therapy Association,
*Source: American Occupational Therapy Association,