Pack it Light, Wear it Right

Help us get the word out about backpack safety. Pack it Light, Wear it Right.

The act of “strapping on the backpack” is a daily ritual for students who struggle to stuff and carry the necessities for the school day: Books, binders and supplies, alongside their sports gear, food and drinks. BC’s chiropractors would like to remind parents, teachers and students to “Pack it Light” and “Wear it Right.”

Research indicates that there are long-term health risks associated with youth who wear poorly designed backpacks or carry too much weight. In fact, over 50% of Canadian youth will suffer at least one back pain episode during their school years. Not only are these injuries painful, they can directly impact the enjoyment of leisure and sports activities that are critical part of a young person’s life.

Tips for finding a good backpack You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good backpack. Here are some tips that may be helpful with your next purchase:

  • Backpacks should be made of the light materials. Vinyl and canvas are much better than leather.
  • Backpacks with two straps distribute weight better than bookbags that are slung over the shoulder. Function should take precedence over fashion.
  • The top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.
  • The shoulder straps should be at least 2 inches wide and should not fit too snugly around the arms, straining muscles and affecting nerves.
  • A hip strap or waist belt can take as much as 50-70% of the weight off the shoulders and spine. The waist belt will equalize the strain on the bones, joints and muscles.
  • Choose a backpack with a lot of pockets to help distribute weight more effectively.

How much weight is too much?

The chart below is a guideline on the maximum weight your child (or you) should carry in their backpack. The general rule is no more than 15% of the student’s body weight or 10% for younger kids.

If you weigh… Only carry…
50 lbs 5 lbs
70 lbs 7 lbs
90 lbs 14 lbs
110 lbs 16 lbs
130 lbs 19 lbs
150 lbs 22 lbs
170 lbs 25 lbs
190 lbs 28 lbs

The British Columbia Chiropractic Association is concerned with this alarming trend in avoidable injuries and is teaming up with educators throughout the province to reinforce the “Pack it Light, Wear it Right” backpack safety program.

We are reaching out to parents and teachers across the province to ensure that students have the tools and information to stay healthy and prevent injury. These materials are free for distribution. We also offer a complimentary speaker service in which a chiropractor from your local area can be made available to speak to students, parents and teachers at your school. Please contact us if you wish to have a speaker or paper copies of the Pack it Light, Wear it Right materials.

Resources for Parents and Educators

Television commmercials

Salvation Army Backpack and School Supply Drive

BC’s Chiropractors are proud supporters of the annual Salvation Army Backpack and School Supply Drive. The Salvation Army in British Columbia will raise funds and school supplies for 5,000 kids in need. In partnership with BC Chiropractic Association, Staples, Fitness Town, Canadian Bible Society, Salvation Army Thrift Stores, Starbucks and media sponsors, thousands of children will go to school feeling proud to enter the next grade fully equipped to succeed. Each year, over 5,000 BC kids in need receive a backpack full of supplies to start off the school year.

Help children and families in your community. Text GIVEBC to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army. #SABackpacks Salvation Army back to school. For more information visit the Salvation Army website.

Past Posters