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 editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her. Through her many years as a masters-level certified health educator and 18-year employment in a higher education setting – as well as several years as a graduate and doctoral student – she has written countless articles, essays, publications, grant applications, proposals, reports, and other technical and creative writing documents. In addition to her training and professional work experience, she spent four years as volunteer editor of New Focus Daily, a publication of the Women Survivors Alliance, a national women cancer survivors-focused organization based in Nashville, Tennessee.
While serving as editor of Unconditionally Her, a women-focused magazine which provides content on anything from recipes, travel, books, and everything in between, she has a special interest in fitness, health, and well-being. She is certified 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 graduate degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for many years and looks forward to re-engaging with women one-on-one as a health coach pending completion of her certification and doctoral degree to supplement her public health and academic work.

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. 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 Unconditionally Her and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to promote empowerment and confidence of women readers across the globe, and to provide inspiration, motivation, and voice for social change through her role as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her.