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3 Back-to-School Backpack Do’s and Don’ts

Backpack Safety Tips, backpack on desk with stack of schoolbooks

Whether our kids want to believe it or not, a new school year is right around the corner and before we know it, they’ll be packing their backpacks with what feels like bricks.

Did you know that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child should carry no more than 10 to 20 percent of their body weight in their backpack?

If you’re concerned about the adverse effects a heavy backpack can have on your child’s back and body, we’re offering you some helpful do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when choosing the right bag and teaching your child how to properly pack and use theirs.


  • Find a backpack that’s made with lightweight, durable, and water-resistant material. Remember, a wet bag will add more weight and strain to your child’s back.
  • Look for a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps as well as padding along the back. This added layer of support helps avoid discomfort which can lead to poor posture.
  • Find a backpack that has multiple compartments throughout the bag to help evenly distribute weight.
  • Take the time to get rid of any unnecessary items that accumulate to reduce the weight of your child’s backpack.


  • Carry too much at one time. Sometimes our kid’s backpack feels as if they’re hauling an anvil. Encourage them to take time to carefully pack their backpacks with only the items they need.
  • Use only one strap when carrying their backpack. Instead, encourage your child to use BOTH straps because shifting the weight of the backpack to one side of the body can add undue stress to their back.
  • Let them pick up their backpacks with their back. Rather, teach your kids how to properly pick up their backpacks by bending at the knees (not at the waist), keeping the spine straight, and holding their backpack close to their body as they lift with their legs.
  • Wear the backpack as is. Take the time to adjust and tighten the shoulder straps so that the backpack is snug to your child’s back.

This year, while back-to-school shopping, be sure to keep these do’s and don’ts in mind when helping your child pick out their new backpack.

If as the school year progresses, your child starts to complain about back pain, contact a Phoenix Physical Therapy location near you and schedule an appointment.