Choosing the Right Backpack

Back pain is pervasive among American adults, but they are not alone: Young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations, and the use of overweight backpacks is a contributing factor for some, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

“In my own practice, I have noticed an increase in the number of young children who are complaining about back, neck and shoulder pain,” said Dr. Scott Bautch, who practices in Wausau, Wis., and is president of ACA’s Council on Occupational Health. “The first question I ask these patients is, ‘Do you carry a backpack to school?’ Almost always the answer is ‘yes.’”

This back pain trend among young people isn’t surprising when you consider the disproportionate amounts of weight they carry in their backpacks—often slung over just one shoulder. Surveys show children today carry everything from books, laptops and school supplies to sports uniforms, shoes and water bottles in their backpacks at any given time.

One study examining the impact of backpacks on children found that over 70% of children surveyed had a backpack that exceeded the recommended 10% of their body weight. Of these children, 32% complained of back pain.

Another study on backpack weight and schoolchildren’s posture showed that head and spinal posture were affected by backpack weight, with heavier backpacks causing a child’s head and spine to bend farther forward.

Backpacks Endorsed by ACA

ACA endorses several backpacks from the following companies:


An ACA endorsement is given to products that are of the highest quality after thorough review, analysis, testing and evaluation by a review board of doctors of chiropractic with specific and related expertise and final approval from ACA’s Board of Governors. Products are reviewed regularly to ensure they continue to meet the high standards on which the endorsement was approved. Learn more about ACA endorsements.

Backpack suggestions in the news, featuring contributions from ACA:

Read more backpack safety tips on the Healthy Living Blog: Backpack Safety


backpack checklist