BOSTON (CBS) – The American Chiropractic Association recommends a backpack weigh no more than 5-to-10 percent of a child’s weight.  But ask the parent of any middle school or high school student and they’ll tell you they are carrying a lot more than that.

Related: Backpack Safety Tips

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According to Dr. Peter Martone of Atlantis Wellness in Wakefield, packing and wearing the backpack properly can make a big difference in easing the strain on a child’s back. Here are the steps he says parents should know before sending their kids off to school.


The first thing is to be aware of how your child is loading up the pack. Martone recommends placing the heaviest items, like hardcover textbooks, closest to the child’s back, with lighter items closer to the backpack’s zipper.

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Secondly, keep in mind that all those straps are there for a reason. Martone says always use both straps to keep the weight evenly distributed. If you’ve ever noticed two side cinch straps, those are to keep the weight balanced against the child’s back, so make sure to pull those tight.


Finally, the hip strap helps keep the weight away from the shoulders, which according to Martone, helps kids avoid shoulder and upper back pain.

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According to the National Safety Council, parents should remember that while a roomy backpack might seem like a good idea, the more space there is to fill, the more likely your child will fill it.