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How Much is Too Much in a Backpack?

School is starting up again, and you know what that means-back to school clothes, supplies, and carpool schedules. It also means backpacks. They come in all shapes and sizes, and worn by kids from elementary to high school, college, and beyond. These are the formative years of child development- both mentally and physically. To fill those big brains with knowledge, we need books, binders, paper, pens/pencils, calculators and more. All that has to be contained somewhere so it's readily available, and it isn't a light load. But how much is too much? That is what we are setting out to bring awareness to this month.

Did you know that too much weight can have a negative effect on spinal development?

Children aren't the only ones who wear backpacks, and so this information can definitely be applied to anyone who uses on (myself included). Whether for work, recreation, or travel, we should keep our ergonomics and spinal health in mind. This is just another piece of information that can be added to your arsenal of preventative knowledge.

Now I do want to add a caveat as well that some backpacks are made with heavier activity in mind, like hiking or backpacking, where some special consideration is made to be able to carry more weight than recommended with better distribution, but I might also argue that those bags are not being used on a daily basis for regular use.

That being said, there is research that has found what is the safe amount of weight to carry in a backpack is, and it varies per size and weight of individual. Here is a chart that may be helpful.

Backpack Weight Chart v2
Download PDF • 628KB

If you have a weight scale, feel free to weigh you or your child's backpack and see if it's putting undue and potentially harmful pressure on that spine. If so, it's time to figure out what can be removed or carried separately to lighten the load.

If you or your child have been carrying a bag that has been far too heavy for far too long, it might be a good idea to get your spine checked for signs of damage or dysfunction that can be corrected easily by a chiropractor like me!

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