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Backpack Wearing Tips

It’s September which means summer vacation is over and it’s back to routine and school. As students are getting their supplies ready, here are some backpack tips as students head back into the classroom:

- Wear both shoulder straps. Carrying a backpack with one strap will lead to load distribution to one side of the body. This can lead to neck muscle spasms and low back pain. The unequal weight distribution can also make it difficult to walk, which can affect the biomechanics of the body. It’s best to wear both straps and to make sure the straps are firmly tightened so that the bottom of the backpack sits about 2” above the waist.

- Make sure the weight of the backpack is distributed properly. Place heavier items on the bottom and against the back to maintain a neutral spine and take pressure off the shoulders. If the backpack comes with waist and chest straps, make use of them to help distribute weight.

- When packing the backpack keep the load light. The backpack should be no more than 15% of the student’s body weight. If they need to pack more into the bag, consider getting a rolling backpack to take the load off the back.

Also when you’re choosing a backpack, here are some tips to consider:

- Find one that has thick, padded shoulder straps. This will prevent the strap from digging into the shoulders and causing neck and arm pain as well as arm and hand numbness.

- Find one that has a lumbar cushion and multiple compartments, which allows for better weight distribution.

- The backpack should not be wider or longer than the torso of the person using it. Ideally, the backpack should sit about 2” above the waist when being used properly. If the backpack is too long, it will create too much pressure on the shoulders, which will cause the student to hunch forward creating a rounded shoulder posture.

If you have any questions or concerns about proper backpack ergonomics, the therapists at Full Function Rehab and Wellness can answer any questions you may have. Give us a call today!


Written By: Dr Anne Trinh, DC

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