Backpack Safetybackpack

by Dr. Sofia Haffenreffer

Contributing Writer for Healthy Living


Injuries from backpacks are on the rise. Last year these injuries were the cause of over 3,000 emergency room visits. In our office we see students weekly due to backpack injuries. The reason is simple. These filled packs are often far too heavy for the child. This puts excessive stress on your children’s developing spines and musculature. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

Research indicates that a child should not carry more than 15% of their total body weight. In real numbers if a child weighs 100 pounds, they should never carry more than 15 pounds in their packs. Students, particularly in junior and high school, sometimes carry around more than double that weight. I recently read a statistic that said, “before they graduate from high school children will improperly lift and carry over 22,000 pounds, or 11 tons of weight.”

The results are headaches, back, shoulder and neck pain, spinal malfunctions and muscle spasms, to name a few.



Parents, students, teachers and administrators must work together to reduce the burden the students are carrying. Here are some steps to prevent backpack injury.

1. Buy a reasonable sized backpack.

2. Notice the number or weight of the books your child shuttles between school and home and around campus.

3. Speak with the children’s teachers and administrators to seek alternatives to carrying so many text books.

4. Have your child evaluated by a chiropractor if they complain of back or neck pain.

Remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Dr. Sofia Haffenreffer is a concerned parent and a Doctor of Chiropractic with her husband Dr. William Haffenreffer at Back To Health Chiropractic in North Hampton, NH.