Now that students are back to school, kids are settling into their homework routines. They’re bringing home more work than ever and physically, they’re paying for it. Backpacks are the most common way students carry their books back and forth to class. There is evidence that links heavy backpack use leads to back pain in more and more children.

You can help prevent your child from becoming one that suffers from backpack misuse. Be sure to purchase a backpack that has wide padded straps and padded back. It helps distribute the weight over your shoulders and prevents slouching. Also make sure the backpack is lightweight and it’s the right size. It shouldn’t be larger than the child’s back and should be appropriate for the child’s needs. If it’s large enough to carry a college student’s workload, your child will more than likely load more in it just because they can. Also look for a bag that has a waist strap. It may not be fashionable, but it will put some of the weight on the hips instead of the back and also prevents slouching.

Of course the bag isn’t relevant if the child isn’t well prepared from what they put inside the bag. Overloading a backpack is the primary reason that it leads to back and shoulder injuries. For young children who weigh 60-75 pounds shouldn’t carry any more than 10 lbs and nobody should carry a backpack weight more than 25 lbs. People should pack the heaviest items at the bottom of the bag and flat items against the back. This transfers the heavy weight to the hips and pointy and bulky items away from the back. You should also make sure your child is always using both of the shoulder straps and that they’re tightened so the bag only hangs slightly below the shoulders. Make sure you child is only using the bag when they need to. If it’s only one book, have them carry it instead of using a backpack.

Children have enough to worry about without having to worry about back pain from backpacks. Try talking to the teachers to see if there are spare books that can keep at home or purchase a second set. That way, they won’t have to transport the books from school to home every day. Also, see if they can use handouts for small chapters instead of books. If your child participates in separate activities and only uses one bag, have them use separate backs instead. If that fails, have them try different styles of bags like saddle bags or rolling bags. Just make sure that they don’t have to lean too far to reach the handle of the rolling bag. This causes the same kind of damage from having to slouch and lean down.

By making these small changes, you will become more aware of how your child responds to their backpacks and prevent future back pain. They’re far too young to have such serious injuries when it’s such a small aspect of their lives and is preventable.