Backpack & Back Pain: Choosing and Wearing a Backpack Properly

Back Pain Backpack Tips

Pack it Light, Wear it Right!

Kids and backpacks seem to go hand in hand. Whether your kids are going to school or daycare, chances are they will most likely be packing a backpack. Did you know that by the time most kids are teenagers, over half will experience back pain!

Knowing which backpack to choose and how to properly wear a backpack is key to preventing this back pain. Below are some great tips from our chiropractic clinic in East Vancouver to help you spare your back!

Qualities of a Great Backpack for School

  • Lightweight fabric (ie: vinyl, canvas)
  • Wide, adjustable and padded shoulder straps
  • Chest and waist straps (Recommended)
  • Padded back support
  • Lots of Pockets

How to Properly Wear a Backpack to Prevent Back Pain

  • Use both straps! Slinging your backpack causes your spine to lean increasing load on the joints and muscles.
  • Be sure to have a snug fit, but not too tight. You should be able to slide your hand between the backpack and your back.
  • Don’t carry the pack too low. As a general rule, if the backpack is making contact with your buttock it’s too low. Adjust your shoulder straps to ensure proper positioning.
  • If available, use provided chest and waist straps to balance the load of the backpack evenly.
  • Don’t hunch when you’re wearing your backpack. If you’re hunching, your backpack is too heavy and you need to lighten your load.

Find The Maximum Pack Weight for Students

  • Make sure your bag contains only what you need for that day!
  • Don’t carry more than 15% of your body weight in your backpack (10% for elementary students). Take a look at this handout to see how much you should carry!
  • Use the pockets and compartments to help distribute your load.
  • Pack heavy items close to your body so that the weight is nearest to your centre of gravity.
  • To calculate the maximum backpack load for a specific child, click here.

Back Pack Pain and Where to Get Treatment

We know school hasn’t officially started yet for many kids in BC, but we hope it will soon.

If you need help with your backpack related pain, call 604-876-9977 or email for an assessment with our Vancouver Chiropractors or our Massage Therapist! We are steps away from the Commercial Broadway Skytrain station and accessible from Burnaby and Downtown Vancouver!

In the meantime, make sure to remember these helpful tips so you don’t break your back with your pack! Your back will thank you, so make sure you PACK IT LIGHT AND WEAR IT RIGHT!

Links and References:

2) Handout:
3) Maximum Load: