It’s that time of year: the kids are headed back to school. And for many of them, that means back to backpacks.

As September draws students back into the classroom and back into their studies, it’s common to see the development of forward head posture as we spend more time at desks, on computers, or reading, not to mention concentrating our down time texting on our phones, playing video games or watching TV.

There’s an added element of the back to school season that can further impact posture: heavy and improperly worn backpacks. If a child is already afflicted with some form of postural challenge—forward head, rounded shoulders, etc. — a backpack with too many books bearing their weight on the spine in the wrong way can significantly worsen problems.

The below photo depicts this effect. In the left-hand frame, Jacob stands with a slightly forward posture, yet with his head fairly aligned over his shoulders. Add the heavy and improperly worn backpack, and his head moves significantly forward. The weight of his head actually increased from 9.4lbs to 17.5lbs – a total change of 87%. This causes a significant increase in dysfunctions such as neck pain, headaches, and jaw issues.

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