Are You Afraid to Weigh Your Backpack?

Are you afraid to weigh your backpack?

Chiropractic Austin TX Backpack Girl

The Backpack: Pack it light and wear it right!

Back pain is extremely common among American adults and is becoming far more common among children and teens. And the use of heavy backpacks is a major contributing factor.

Children are suffering from back pain much earlier than in previous generations. The back pain trend among youngsters isn’t surprising when you consider the disproportionate amounts of weight they carry in their backpacks – often slung over just one shoulder.

Adults who use backpacks for work essentials and even recreational activities are just as guilty of over-packing and wearing the backpack incorrectly. All those straps and buckles are provided for support and to eliminate pain. The ideal backpack weight should not exceed 20% of the body weight.

Whether it is for a hike or school, overstuffed backpacks can lead to:

  • Poor circulation
  • Bad posture
  • Migraines
  • Back Pain
  • Muscle irregularities

Here’s a challenge to lighten that daily backpack load.

Use a scale and set a reward for each pound reduced to keep the backpack within the 10-20% rule (Remember an 80-pound child, should only be carrying 8-16 pounds or a 160-pound man should only carry 16-32 pounds). Prioritize carrying only the items needed for each day.

The longer a person wears a heavy backpack, the more the spine is compressed, often leading to distortions and misalignments (subluxation) of the spine. Months and even years of wearing a heavy backpack can result in months or years of care to correct curvature or deformity of the spine.

Reducing weight is the first priority and next, it is imperative to use a backpack that is made to relieve excess pressure from the back to prevent serious back pain and developing underlying conditions.


  • Lightweight vinyl or canvas with sturdy zippers.
  • The correct size should be a few inches below the shoulder and only a few inches below the waist.
  • Pack has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps. Wide shoulder straps distribute weight more evenly, leading to a healthier posture.
  • Pack has a sternum (or chest) strap. This strap disperses the weight, prevents shoulder soreness, and keeps the shoulder straps on the shoulders. As the sternum strap is tightened, weight is dispersed.
  • Pack has a hip or waist strap. This strap transfers up to 80% of the pack's weight from the shoulders to the hips.
  • Pack has a padded back with support. The longer the timespan it is to be worn, the more support is recommended. Padding eliminates points where weight is unevenly impacting parts of the spine.
  • Pack has plenty of pockets to organize and laptop safe compartment.


  • Make sure the pack contains only what is needed for that day.
  • Distribute the weight evenly.
  • The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10 to 20% of the wearer’s body weight.


  • Put the pack on a flat surface, at waist height, like a tabletop or desk.
  • Slip one shoulder at a time into the straps
  • Stand to lift from the table
  • Buckle the waist/hip straps
  • Tighten and adjust the waist strap first, then the shoulder straps, and lastly the sternum strap to fit comfortably. When complete, you should be able to slide a hand between the wearer’s back and the backpack.
  • Always avoid the twisting and flinging method!

Wearing a backpack shouldn’t be a drag. Maintaining good back health prevents back problems in later life. So, pack it light and wear it right!

If you have any questions about wearing backpacks feel free to contact the experienced team at Chiropractic Arts Center of Austin, P.C. in Austin.

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Chiropractic Arts Center of Austin, P.C.

4131 Spicewood Springs Road #L-3
Austin, TX 78759

P: (512) 346-3536

F: (512) 346-5036