What’s In That Backpack? When Too Much Is Too Much

It’s AUGUST and that means among other things, it’s back to school for many.   One of the most common items we think of when planning for back-to-school may also be promoting poor health –backpacks! Whether

It’s AUGUST and that means among other things, it’s back to school for many.   One of the most common items we think of when planning for back-to-school may also be promoting poor health –backpacks! Whether your child is heading to elementary, middle school, high school, or is a young adult somewhere on a college campus, making sure his or health is not compromised because of the weight of a backpack is super-important.  How many times have you picked up a child’s backpack and wondered what in the world was in there?  ME!!!  I’ve done it with my own kids and also have been guilty myself as a young adult during my college days.  Would you let them carry a cast-iron skillet in their backpack? A bowling ball? Heavy concrete bricks?   Of course not! But the weight they are carrying with multiple books and supplies might just be the equivalent of some of those items.


Too heavy backpacks may lead to neck, back, and shoulder pain, poor posture and excessive slouching according to experts at Harvard Medical School. Harvard experts offer guidelines for backpacks which will help avoid health problems created by too much weight carried.  They also share several tips including helping your child by teaching him or her organizational skills.  One great organizational tip shared is to use folders for individual subjects so that he or she can bring home just the work he needs for the day instead of bringing everything home in one super-heavy backpack.  They also encourage while at school, encouraging children to take frequent trips in between classes to lockers to replace books.


It is recommended by the American Chiropractic Association that  that backpacks weigh no more than 5% to 10% of a child’s weight, though many are carrying up to 25% of the weight in their backpacks. Take a look at this video from the American Chiropractic Association to learn more, as well as another great video from the National Safety Council for additional information about backpacks and how to keep your child’s health in check as they go back to school.





Feature image from www.pexels.com, courtesy of www.pixabay.com



American Chiropractic Association. https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Backpack-Safety.  Accessed 7/28/2019.

Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/childrens-health/bad-backs-and-backpacks. Accessed 7/28/2019.

National Safety Council. https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/child-safety/backpacks.  Accessed 7/28/2019.



Cindy Chafin
Cindy Chafin, M.Ed., MCHES® serves as project director for the Women Survivors Alliance and New Focus Daily magazine. Cindy is masters-level certified in health education by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and was part of the first cohort to receive master's level designation. NCHEC certifies health education specialists, promotes professional development, and strengthens professional preparation and practice. She is proud to be a CHES® and has been a public health professional for many years after receiving her degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Cindy has been involved in multiple cancer activities and projects since 2000, including serving as the state coalition coordinator for Tennessee for 13 years, and currently is involved with several cancer organizations. She currently is the Associate Director for Community Programs for the Center for Health and Human Services at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, located just outside of Nashville, where she has been a project director of multiple grants since 2002 and served as interim director from 2015-2018. She has been touched by cancer personally after seeing both family and friends alike suffer from the disease.

Cindy offers her consulting services and volunteer hours under the umbrella of Community Health Collaboratives, LLC which she founded in 2002 for organizations such as the Women Survivors Alliance and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to partner with New Focus Daily and WSA.