Children are carrying more and more items in their backpacks these days. From Chromebooks, water bottles, books, and supplies. So, how much weight is safe for children to carry? 



School Supplies

These days children are bringing to school a laptop or a Chromebook to complete their school work.  They need notebooks for each subject, textbooks, crayons, markers, pens, pencils, a ruler, scissors, folders, and usually a reading book.  Some bring a lunch and their own water bottle. All of these things add up and put compression on your child's spine. 

15% of Your Child's Body Weight

It is recommended that kids carry no more than 15% of their body weight in their backpacks.  Let’s find out how much your child is carrying.  Have your child fill their backpack as if they are ready to leave for school.  Weigh the backpack on your home scale, then weigh your child. Take the weight of your child and divide it into the weight of the backpack.  Your result should be no more than 15% of your child’s weight. 

Affecting Your Child's Posture

Children are at risk for the same types of physical issues as adults when it comes to wearing heavy backpacks.  Regular use of a heavy backpack can result in:

  • Back and shoulder pain
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms
  • Poor posture
  • Reduced blood flow
  • Headache and neck pain
  • Distorted natural spine curvature
  • Muscle strain caused by overcompensation
  • Wearing an improper backpack can create a pattern of physical problems later in life.

Backpack Tips

  • Wear both straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder causes a person to lean to one side to compensate for the uneven weight, curving the spine. Over time, this can cause lower and upper back pain, strained shoulders and neck, and even functional scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Teenage girls are especially susceptible to scoliosis.

  • Make sure the backpack is not too heavy. One should carry no more than 15 percent of one’s body weight in a backpack.

  • Pay attention to the type of backpack. Look for backpacks with wide straps. Narrow straps can hinder circulation, causing numbness or tingling in the arms, which over time may cause weakness in the hands.

  • Look for a backpack with a waist belt. Tightening the belt helps distribute the weight of the backpack more evenly. It’s also wise to consider the weight of the backpack when empty. For example, a canvas backpack will be lighter weight than leather. For children who often walk to school near traffic, parents may want to find a backpack that has reflective strips that make your child more noticeable to drivers.

(This video was filmed in April 2021)

We Can Help!

If you are interested in having a chiropractor at Clairpointe Family Chiropractic weigh your child’s backpack or check your child’s spine for spinal subluxations, please call the office at (313) 886-8030, or you can request an appointment on our website at