Backpack Safety

Do you use a backpack to carry your books and other school supplies throughout the day? While backpacks are convenient, they can sometimes cause muscle and joint pain when used incorrectly.

Keep the following backpack tips in mind to help you avoid back, shoulder and neck pain.

  • To distribute weight evenly, choose a backpack that has two shoulder straps instead of one, and always use both shoulder straps.
  • The shoulder straps should be wide and padded for comfort, and tightened so that the backpack is close to your body. A good rule of thumb is the bottom of the backpack should be two inches above your waist.
  • Since you will be carrying many items in your backpack, make sure the backpack itself is lightweight. Overall, the backpack and its contents should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your total body weight.
  • Choose a backpack that has a padded back to protect yourself from sharp objects inside.
  • Bend using both knees instead of bending at the waist.
  • Remember, you do not need to carry all of your books for the day in your backpack – stop at your locker throughout the day, if possible, to swap out what you need.
  • Your backpack should be organized in a way in which all compartments are being used, and heavier items should be packed closest to the center of the backpack.
  • A rolling backpack may be a good option for you if you have a heavy load.

If you are having any pain from using a backpack, talk to your doctor for help.