A student’s backpack should not weigh more than 15 percent of his body weight, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association. A 100-pound student’s book bag should not weigh more than 15 pounds. Students in middle and high school often carry heavy books to and from school. A backpack that is too heavy, or that is carried improperly, can cause medical problems. Packing and wearing a backpack properly can lessen the potential for harm; however, backpacks that exceed the recommended weight can cause serious injury.
Curvature of the Spine
A heavy backpack worn over one shoulder might cause your child to lean to one side, causing his spine to curve and causing him pain. He can prevent spine curvature, and rounded shoulders, by using both straps and distributing the weight of his backpack evenly across both shoulders, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The weight of a heavy backpack pulls your child forward, causing her to adjust to the weight by arching her back or bending forward at the hips. This posture can cause compression of the spine, according to KidsHealth.
Should and Neck Injury
Backpack straps can apply pressure to the blood vessels and nerves in your child’s shoulder and neck. The pressure can cause pain and tingling in his arms, hands, legs and neck. Well-padded straps can prevent too much pressure, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association.
A backpack worn improperly can cause strain or damage to back and stomach muscles. If the backpack is worn loosely, the weight can pull your child backward. If it is not the right size for your child, it will cause uneven distribution of weight. To protect against muscle strain, adjust shoulder straps, including the waist belt if the backpack has one, and ensure that the backpack rests against your child’s lower back, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Chronic Back and Neck Pain
Heavy backpacks can cause upper and lower back pain and neck strain. Poor posture caused by the backpack and the back pain can worsen the problem, according to KidsHealth.
Students carrying heavy backpacks can cause injuries to others if the backpack hits or falls on a child. A heavy backpack can interfere with the way your child walks, causing him to trip or fall, according to KidsHealth.