Does Your Child’s Backpack Make the Grade?

Does Your Child’s Backpack Make the Grade?

Back-to-School Backpack Safety Tips from Community Medical Center

Toms River, N.J., August 13, 2019– Children and families all around the region are preparing to start another school year. For many, one of the top items on their back-to-school shopping list is a backpack. Making sure your child has the right backpack, and that it’s worn correctly, can help reduce the risk of injury.

In recent years, parents, teachers, school administrators and healthcare professionals have become increasingly concerned about backpack safety, as a backpack that is too heavy or worn improperly can cause injury to a child's growing bones and joints. Injury can occur when a child uses unnatural postures, such as leaning to one side, bending over or arching the back to carry a heavy backpack. This can result in improper spine alignment, spine stress and fatigue.

Ray Howard, PT, DPT, OCS, Regional Director of Rehabilitation Services at Community Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, offers the following back-to-school backpack tips:

  • Select backpacks with wide, padded shoulder straps.
  • Match the size of the backpack to the child—when loaded, backpacks should not weigh more than 15% of the child's total body weight, so use all available backpack compartments and pack light.
  • Wear both shoulder straps—this distributes the weight more proportionately.
  • Fit the backpack properly—the backpack should rest easily across the middle of the back with the straps adjusted so that the child's arms can move freely. The backpack should rest two inches above the child's waist.
  • Pack as light as possible—put the heaviest items in the compartment closest to the back where the muscles are the strongest and only carry what's necessary.

Parents should check with their children regularly to make sure they do not have any back strain or pain from carrying their backpack. Do not ignore any discomfort or problems your children experiences. Contact your pediatrician or other healthcare professional if problems do arise.

For a referral to a Community Medical Center pediatrician and information about our Rehabilitation Services Department, including physical, occupational and speech therapy, call 1-888-724-7123 or visit

About Community Medical Center

Community Medical Center (CMC), an RWJBarnabas Health facility, is dedicated to advancing the quality of life and health of the greater Ocean County region by providing safe, high quality care. CMC is a fully accredited acute care hospital and maintains national accreditations in multiple specialty areas. Highly sophisticated services, not typically found in a community hospital, include advanced cancer, cardiac, emergency, maternity and neurology care, as well as cutting edge surgical care. Patients have access to advanced technology including the da Vinci Xi robotic surgical platform, Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery System for joint replacement procedures and state-of-the-art imaging technology. RWJBarnabas Health and CMC, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey - the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center - brings a world class team of researchers and specialists to fight alongside you, providing close-to-home access to the latest treatment and clinical trials. The J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center at CMC features one of the most sophisticated linear accelerators used for radiation therapy, a CyberKnife for treating inoperable tumors and holistic therapies to care for the whole person. CMC provides a broad array of health and wellness programs designed to help people achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles and optimal health. Visit for more information.