Backpacks should ease your load, not make it worse.
When is a backpack too heavy? It shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of a student’s weight.
A school backpack should make it easier, not more painful, for a student to carry a load. Backpacks that are too heavy or worn incorrectly can injure muscles and joints. Read on for tips on choosing, wearing and packing a backpack.
- The heaviest items should be packed low and close to the center of the back.
- A student shouldn’t carry more than 10 percent if his or her total body weight in a backpack.
- Use all the compartments of a backpack to help distribute weight evenly.
- The pack should have 2 padded shoulder straps. Single straps—or slinging just 1 strap over a shoulder—can’t distribute weight evenly and may cause muscle strain.
- The shoulder straps should be wide, not narrow. Narrow straps can dig into shoulders, causing pain and cutting off circulation.
- The straps should be tightened so the backpack sits close to the body and about 2 inches above the waist.
- A rolling backpack may be a good choice for students with an especially heavy load.
- Bend at the knees when lifting a backpack.
- Make use of school lockers to store unneeded items.
- Bring only the items needed for the day.
- Don’t ignore discomfort. If the backpack is causing back or shoulder pain, talk to a doctor.
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Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Occupational Therapy Association