Baylor College of Medicine News

Back-to-school backpack reminders

When children start piling their new school supplies into their backpacks, parents should be aware of how much weight they are carrying, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

"Carrying a heavy backpack can be an issue, and parents should be sure children are carrying no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight in their backpacks," said Dr. Rubin Bashir, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at BCM. "For example, a 100 pound child should not carry a backpack that weighs more than 15 pounds."

Backpacks can be a pain

Bashir said that research has shown some relation between increased backpack weight and an increase in back pain in children.

As children get older, the books get heavier, so heavy backpacks are hard to avoid, acknowledges Bashir.

If a child complains of back pain, parents should look into how much weight they are carrying in their backpacks.

Assess the situation

Bashir also makes the following suggestions:

  • Be sure children are carrying backpacks on both shoulders
  • Make sure backpacks are not hanging low, but are snug and high on children's backs
  • Use backpacks with a waist strap to help carry the load
  • Keep an extra copy of books at home so children aren't carrying them to and from school
  • Consider purchasing a rolling backpack